San Augustine Co. Jail at lowest population in years

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - Records show the inmate population at one East Texas jail has been declining since 2010. The San Augustine County Jail can hold about 34 inmates, but hasn't come close to that number in years.

Last year nearly half of the jail was filled of criminals doing just that.

But this year that number has been cut.

The average inmate population is about seven.

Chief Deputy Gary Cunningham says less people behind bars is actually paying off.

The cost of prosecution, food and transportation are among the list of expenses that are thrown out the window when the inmate population decreases

Getting people into jail is one issue the sheriff's office faces.

Cunningham says making an arrest is easy, but it's not the whole picture.

"We respond to the needs of the citizens," Cunningham said. "When they are the victims of crime or they see a crime or observe something going on in the community, they call us and we investigate and on occasion we make an arrest."

Something that helps the jail population is inmates not returning.

Some officials believe religion could be a big contributor to that.  And Cunningham believes that number can change any day.

"Sometimes you have a lot of people in jail, sometimes you don't have so many people in jail," Cunningham said. "Frankly if we had no one in jail that would make us very happy."

Cunningham says some religious groups voluntarily come to the jail to speak with inmates.

In some cases inmates have been taken to area churches to get baptized.

Copyright 2015 KTRE. All rights reserved.