Jail Overcrowding May End State Contract

Jail overcrowding in Nacogdoches County will most likely put an end to a state contract that once generated over a million dollars a year for the county . The goal now is to at least break even.

Contract inmates in the Nacogdoches County jail are taking up needed space. Before overcrowding the $42 a day the county received to house parole violators filled county coffers. Now the space is more valuable. Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss explained, "If you're not going to grow than you have to try to reduce your population. The only population that we have to control over being able to reduce is those ISF (Intermediate Sanction Facility) and treatment contracts."

There's really no alternative. State prison overcrowding is already causing backlogs in nearby jails. Kerss recalled, "We almost had to go to bowie county this month with some inmates. That's a full financial impact difference when you start talking about leasing from San Augustine or Angelina County versus having to transport those to Bowie County and back."

County commissioners know ending those trips to other counties will cut expenses, but not eliminate them. Kerss said, "Our costs aren't going to decrease because we're still going to be near maximum capacity. We're sending these contract inmates home so we have available jail space to house our own.

Nacogdoches County commissioners have not severed the 'state contract' yet. They will likely do so before next year's budget is adopted.

One solution is a jail expansion, but right now, that idea is not favored by commissioners or taxpayers.