NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office is now exploring options to deal with issues presented by the county jail as it near maximum occupancy.
The jail’s capacity is reached shy of 300 inmates, Sheriff Jason Bridges explained. As of the end of September, it appeared the jail was around 15 to 20 inmates from reaching that point.
“Twelve years ago was the last time we had to house inmates out of county,” Bridges said. “We’re been close in my tenure as sheriff before; about two or three years ago we got to this level.”
“We’re hoping we don’t have to do this because it would just be another cost to the taxpayers of Nacogdoches County if we have to house inmates at other locations, basically at $40 per inmate," Bridges said.
Bridges said his department has moved money from its budget to help cover the cost of temporarily moving inmates to another jail. However, he added he hoped it didn’t come to that point.
Bridges said his department has already discussed other solutions to the overcrowding issue.
“As we can move inmates through the court system faster, it takes time, but in the end goal, it will help alleviate overcrowding in the jail,” Bridges explained.
The sheriff added that county commissioners have also explored the idea of updating the current jail facility and even considered building a new one.
“It’s an older jail built in ’88, ’89. The addition was built in ’93, ’94 when it was finished,” Bridges said. "Anything that ages, obviously there’s just wear and tear. That has been talked about. There’s nothing in the setting stages of building anything right now, but I know it’s on the commissioner’s court’s minds.
“But obviously when you take on a task like that, it’s going to be a lot of money. Where does that funding come from? How do we pay for that? But, in the end, we’re going to have to do something with the jail in the coming years.”
Another challenge the sheriff’s office has to deal with is finding enough jail staff to properly monitor inmates. Bridges said the jail was already understaffed, not accounting for the staff members needed for the inmate capacity.