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Home News-Telegram News County officials discuss options on jail overcrowding

County officials discuss options on jail overcrowding

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County officials this week continued to discuss potential options to remedy overcrowding at the county jail, adding electronic monitoring bracelets for low risk inmates and potential of renovating a county-owned building for temporary housing to the list of ideas considered.

The jail has been under remedial order from the State Commission on Jail Standards for months, and county officials have had to meet with state officials quarterly explaining what is being done to remedy the issue of overcrowding. A temporary solution has been contracting with other counties to pay to house overflow at their facilities. That costs the county a rate of $40 an inmate a day.

However, the population continues to exceed maximum capacity at the county jail, necessitating paying Franklin County to house the overflow which was about 15 on one day this week, according to Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap.

Earlier this week, the sheriff and staff, county judge and commissioners, justices of the peace, district judge and clerk, constables, county-court at law judge, probation officials, and county and district attorneys hashed out pros and cons of contracting with a company to utilize electronic monitoring ankle bracelets on inmates, so that those being housed at the county jail for less serious offenses can be released to their home with restrictions and the bracelet. The company would do all monitoring and alert sheriff’s officers of violations, so they could pick up those individuals.

Who would be eligible for the monitoring was considered. Ultimately, it would likely fall to the magistrates doing arraignments to assess situations, analyze risks and allow.

Millsap said based on discussions on the current jail population, most would likely not meet requirements for being released with a monitor. He said another meeting is expected to be held at a later time to “get an interpretation of the law” regarding use of the electronic bracelets.

Sheriff’s officials said prior to the meeting, that the cost for monitoring of the bracelets breaks down per day to be less than the cost to house them at the county jail or another facility. It will also free up space for individuals arrested for more serious offenses.

Another option which Millsap said was discussed and will be pitched as part of the improvement plan to the jail commission is potential to refurbish a building on county-own property to temporarily function as a minimum security jail. The legalities of that option are being explored, as well as cost. The facility would be a short term solution, intended to be used for only five years. Cost would be a big factor, as well as whether it could be brought up to health and safety codes, Millsap said.

Other options that have been discussed in previous commissioners’ court session have included privatization of the jail, that is allowing a private company to build and staff a jail which meets all state and federal regulations.

Millsap said the county officials, their legal counsel and the sheriff would present a proposal showing what has been considered and their recommended plans to remedy jail issues to the jail standards commission during the state regulators’ August session.

 

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