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12-6-05 - After a weekend garage sale to raise money, the Bryan County Jail administration says they still have a long way to go.
With a salary of just $950 a month, Bryan County Confinement Officers make less money than jailers in neighboring counties.
Low pay that equals high turnover which is something the Jail Administrator blames on the high number of escapes this year.
Six inmates have broken out of the Bryan County Jail this year and one is still on the run.
While funding is always a problem, with economic costs going up this year. It's been harder for the jail administration to keep qualified jailers on staff to watch over 100 prisoners.
Commissioners say money is stretched throughout the county and that the problem isn't limited to Bryan, but jailers in other local counties make more money.
Carter County Jailers make nearly twice as much to start out. It's $1,200 a month in Atoka County and nearly the same in Marshall County. Grayson County is the highest in the area as jailers start at nearly $2,300 a month.
"We need to pay these people an amount of money that compensates for the fact that they take their lives into their own hands every time they walk through the door," Delois Philips of the Bryan County Jail Administrator said. "So that we have enough staff always on duty at any given time and that we pay them enough that they can make a living for themselves and their families."
We spoke with the excise board, which approves the county commissioners' budget. They recognize the problem, but say the answer is not as simple as allocating more funds to the jail.
They've tried to cut corners in the past, even put excess tax money straight into the jail.
The Bryan County Jail makes up some of their operating costs by housing criminals from outside jurisdictions and neighboring cities, but they still end up in the red each year.