Angelina 'rocket docket' shows jail numbers going down

Published: Jan. 13, 2012 at 10:13 PM CST
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LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - For more than a year, inmates from the Angelina County Jail have filed into a courtroom where Judge Gerald Goodwin presides.

"The vast majority are pre-trial people we can get out," said Sgt. Allen Hill of the Angelina County Sheriff's Office. "They're just waiting to go to court, sitting on limbo and that's what Rocket Docket is designed to do to eliminate this."

More than a year ago, Goodwin, a former district judge, came out of retirement, volunteering for a program now called "rocket docket."

It's designed to cut down on the jail population by resolving inmate cases.

"We enjoy being able to move cases quickly because when cases stack up that's when we get behind on our work," said Art Bauereiss of the district attorney's office. "You know, it's not just people getting put on probation. A lot of the people who are dealt with on Rocket Docket end up either going to state jail or prison facilities."

That frees up more space behind bars.

Today's jail count is 224 inmates. A far cry from the pre-rocket docket jail that was once pushing capacity.

In fact, recently the jail population dipped below 200, practically unheard of at the facility.

"We want to cooperate with everybody in the system and try to work as efficiently as we can because we're dealing with tax dollars and so we're trying to do everything we can to make sure those aren't wasted," Bauereiss said.

It costs more than $45 a day to house each inmate.

On average, rocket docket has helped keep the population down by 50 inmates a month.

That saves taxpayers more than $2,300 a day, a savings of about $900,000 a year.

In the meantime, prosecutors say it gives them more time to focus on cases going to trial, and inmates on their way to serving their time or getting their lives back on track.

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