Nacogdoches County runs 'monster docket' to clear jail

BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - By Holley Nees - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - It's called the monster docket and the objective is to push the court dates up for some Nacogdoches suspected felons awaiting trial in the jail.

It's in an effort to lower the inmate count to save money.

Before she was an administrator at the Nacogdoches County Jail, Major Karla Swanzy remembers when it was so full inmates were sent to other jails often.

"When I initially came to work here, we had over 292 and we actually had to out-source some of our inmates to some other counties and pay out additional monies in order to house them there," Swanzy said.

But, over the years, the county has made a conscious effort to keep the inmate numbers low.

"The jail standards tells us that we have to have one employee or one jailer, correctional officer, per every 48 inmates," Swanzy said. "So, if we keep it down, below 240, then that eliminates us having to hire five more people to come in and cover a shift."

Five more jailers would cost county taxpayers about $200,000 a year. So, county officials decided to have a "monster docket" where about 40 inmates waiting on their court date in jail could appear before a judge sooner.

Swanzy says they have about 225 inmates in the jail now, that's down from 240 earlier this week. She says a "monster docket" helps them keep their numbers down and saves the county money.

"You're not only paying salaries, but you're paying extra meals and you're using more electricity and more water to wash the clothing and more transport to get them back and forth to you know doctor visits and courts," Swanzy said.

The district attorney says the "monster docket" is not letting inmates walk free, it's just pushing up their court dates. Several reached plea deals today and will now go on to serve their time in a state prison or probation, which is good news for Swanzy.

"It's always a relief for us when they are going to go to court and going to be sentenced and have that court day over with," Swanzy said.

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