County jail passes state inspection
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Sept. 21, 2006 -- After almost two years of struggling to meet requirements of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, Hopkins County Sheriff's Office aced a surprise inspection on Wednesday.

"We didn't know he was coming -- normally, we get a letter saying he was coming," Sheriff Butch Adams said Thursday.

But, Adams added, "We knew it was about time, so we had everything pretty much done."

The jail commission warned the county in December of 2004 to correct crowded conditions in the county jail immediately or face possible commission action.

The county jail failed an inspection in September of 2005 when the commission found the number of prisoners continued to exceed the number of certified beds in the facility, according to Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap.

In May of this year, however, a letter from Terry Julian, executive director of thejail standards commission, informed the sheriff the jail was back in compliance.

Adams said the overcrowding was rectified with the help of the justices of the peace, county and district judges, and the district and county attorneys in keeping the inmate population levels at or below the 100-bed capacity originally certified by the state.

The county submits reports to the Commission on Jail Standards each day listing the total inmate population for the preceding 24-hour period. The state inspectors also look at other factors, such as the condition of the facility and its fixtures, and the procedures for handling grievances filed by inmates.

"They go through not just the jail, but all the paperwork and pretty much everything," Adams said.

Sheriff Adams said he has had discussions with county commissioners about the possibility of expanding the current jail or building a new jail that could also hold both state and federal prisoners. Some county jails earn sizable revenue through payments made for housing such inmates.

"I think it would be a workable thing, but you would nearly have to build a new jail to do that," the sheriff said. "There are federal prisoners out there we could hold, but to do that, in my opinion, we would have to build a 300-bed jail."

Adams also said the costs of operation would increase with additional food expense and jail employees.

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