Jail overcrowding in North Texas

By: Daniel Gotera Email
By: Daniel Gotera Email

Jail overcrowding is a problem for courthouses across the nation and right here in Texoma. Grayson County is one of several Texas counties discussing how to deal with the situation. Daniel Gotera talked to officials from other counties to see what is working for them.

Last week, Grayson County officials announced they plan to look into expanding the current jail. Fannin County is looking to private sector for help, but officials in Cooke County say they've figured it out. So we asked them how they deal with an increasing number of inmates.

To build or not to build a new jail. That is the question Grayson County officials say they've been asking for about the past five years. But those same headaches are being felt 15 miles to the east in Fannin County.

"Everything is tied to the almighty dollar,” Fannin County sheriff Kenneth Moore says in this year’s budget, $300,000 have been allotted to pay for housing prisoners out of county, a dollar figure he says doesn't need to be there.

"I’d like to see that money go elsewhere like more salaries and more area of county government."

Fannin County's 96-bed jail was built back in 2001, and it’s no secret they need more room. The only problem is doubling the current size of the facility would cost $8 million dollars-- money not available to the county right now.

"There are private investors who spend the money to build a facility and then they hire a company to run that facility."

Officials say taking the private sector route is possible. The county has been in talks with one company for the past year and a half to build a 400-bed facility, but holding a bond election has worked well for other counties like Cooke County.

Officials there finished their new $8 million jail in 2005 and have never had to deal with overcrowding. In fact, county judge bill freeman says they charge Grayson and Fannin counties $42 a day to house their prisoners.

"Spending $600,000 outside the county to what I believe last year we made a $400,000-$500,000 income housing other people’s prisoners."

It’s a luxury which would be available in Fannin County with a private company jail with no additional prices to tax payers.

"There’s a lot of things that are going on that have a direct impact on the tax dollars that are spent where we don’t have to spend tax dollars. Somebody else is spending their money."

Sheriff Moore says the county is still in talks with the private company to negotiate a price the county would receive for each inmate housed at the private jail.

There is no current timetable as to when anything will be finalized.

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  • by Anonymous on Mar 17, 2008 at 04:14 PM
    have any of you BUTT WIPES ever been in jail
  • by Thinkaboutit Location: here and now on Mar 15, 2008 at 10:39 AM
    Its all about money. You either pay at the county level or state level. There needs to be a change. Most Taxpayers don't know that the Criminal Justice System is. Even fewer know that it is but one method on how we approach crime and punishment in America. A more cost effective, more practical and safer method uses Restorative Justice as its base and the Criminal Justice System as one of its alternatives. There will never be a solution to lessen the impact of the Criminal justice system other than choosing an alternative.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 14, 2008 at 02:44 PM
    It shouldn't be comfortable.....cram em in.
  • by Sick of the System Location: Proud American Tax Payer on Mar 14, 2008 at 11:18 AM
    I agree with Thurmon Merman and Jason, deport those who don't belong (legally) and send the repeat offenders to the Big House and LEAVE 'EM THERE for the FULL SENTENCE!!! Think about it, we'd have plenty of space then!
  • by Jason Location: Madill on Mar 14, 2008 at 08:30 AM
    If we'd start putting some real justice to these 2nd and 3rd time offenders there wouldn't be this problem.
  • by Thurmon Merman Location: Sherman on Mar 14, 2008 at 08:27 AM
    Some could be deported, that would free up space.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 13, 2008 at 05:41 PM
    let alot of them out. if people want to do drugs that is their bussiness
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