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Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke to tour Harris County jail during Houston visit

August 22, 2018

Beto O’Rourke, the charismatic U.S. Senate candidate whose grassroots campaign has energized Texas Democrats, is set to tour the Harris County jail Wednesday as part of a Houston visit.

The El Paso congressman has broadly touted “criminal justice reform” and his site supports changes from bail reform to legalizing marijuana to better mental health care behind bars.

The last of those is becoming a particularly salient concern for the local lock-up right now, on the heels of two inmate suicides in under a month.

His opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz, has framed O’Rourke as an anti-law enforcement candidate, in light of his support for sanctuary cities and for the Black Lives Matter movement. But unlike the incumbent he’s hoping to unseat, O’Rourke has hoped to win hearts and minds in a traditionally red state by eschewing PAC funding and meeting Lone Star Staters one-by-one in a sweeping 254-county tour.

Earlier this summer, O’Rourke paid a visit to an immigrant detention center along the Mexican border, then posted a video detailing his trip.

“It’s just a gigantic warehouse where hundreds of kids and adults are kept divided by age,” he said, “families no longer together.”

keri.blakinger@chron.com

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