What Have Patterson and McNair Done to the Liberty County Jail?

LIBERTY, June 9, 2012 – Today i-dineout.com received the Amended Agenda for the Liberty County Commissioners Court stating that Commissioners Court will be discussing the hiring of a consultant, Lynn Greenwood. Is seems that she will be part of a proposed committee to include Commissioner Charlotte Warner, County Craig McNair and unidentified County Liaison to study the jail situation.

Sources had previously told i-dineout.com that a Texas A&M University student who was pursing a Doctorate Degree would be coming to study the situation as part of her Doctoral Dissertation. We went searching for who this Lynn Greenwood could possibly be and found this Lynn Greenwood from Texas A&M University, Central Texas. Follow this link… Lynn Greenwood, MS

i-dineout.com has been researching the Jail Situation for sometime and were nearing the completion of our research but had not had time to write the article. With these new events coming up on Tuesday we reviewed our findings and publish the following report.

Recently i-dineout.com from sources learned that the jail population had fallen significantly over the last few years. Second from sources we learned that the idea of closing the old jail permanently was being considered.

This was news that apparently had been kept quiet for years as I knew during Sheriff Arthur's Administration and as late as during the budget year 2010 the jails were quiet full and had been since long before Sheriff Henry Patterson along with Chief Deputy Jim Cooper had been responsible for running the jail.

We further learned through sources that in fact the old Jail has stood empty with no prisoners for at least the last month.

We had questions as follows:

1. During Arthur’s time the jails were always near full. Why is one of them now empty?
2. How many prisoners on the average are now being held in the Liberty County Jail?
3. We knew that for a long time prior to Patterson and Cooper the prisoners we kept almost exclusively in the Old Jail were kept there by Liberty County as prisoners of the Federal Government, U. S. Marshall’s Service and other out of town Law Enforcement Agencies which were a lucrative and value source income to Liberty County by virtue of the fact we had obtained valuable contracts for doing so and were paid well. Our question was where did these prisoners go and why?
4. How did we loose this valuable source of income and just how much did we loose?
5. Why don’t we have a jail contract today since according to sources it expired sometime in December and have been operating the Jail under contract extensions that have been extended several times and which are far more expensive to County Taxpayers? After six months of dragging around it was time it be explained.

First we looked at how much income was being produced by housing other’s prisoners to the county that we used to offset the cost of housing our own. Researching the 2010 County Budget we determined that around $300,000.00 dollars per year was made in that effort. Since that time the out of town law enforcement agencies have chosen to place their prisoners elsewhere during Sheriff Patterson's administration and all those prisoners are gone. This explains why the old Jail is empty that used to be full of such prisoners. There’s nobody there anymore and County Taxpayers now are funding the entire cost of housing our own prisoners without the benefit of income to offset this necessary and unavoidable expense.

The old Jail is just that. It’s old and doesn’t comply with current jail standards. As long as we keep it open that's OK, because its deficiencies are grandfathered in and we don’t have to spend the money to bring it up to standard. However, if it’s ever closed it cannot be reopened without spending considerable sums to bring it up to today’s standards.

In looking back over the years of Sheriff Greg Arthur and until about 2010 what was the old jail. It was our moneymaker that provided much needed income and had been for some time. And now the idea told to us by sources is to close the old jail permanently because the jail population has fallen eliminating any possibility of income it provided to the County and burdened taxpayers.

Just since 2010 we lost $300,000.00 dollars a year in profit by loosing all those prisoners we were housing for other agencies.

The average population currently in the Liberty County Jail is just over 150 on average. This is significant because the price the County pays to the outside contractor operating the jail is about $72.00 per prisoner per day unless the population falls below 150 in which case the cost goes up to $75.00 per day. This is because were have been operating the jail under extended contracts since about the end of December. During the contract and before it had to extended because no one could make a decision about what to do, the cost per day per prisoner was $46.00 per day.

The difference in cost between operating with a contract and without one is about $26.00 per day per prisoner. With an average jail population of 150 per day, the additional cost per day is $3,900.00. From January 1, 2012 to the end of May this year is about 150 days which means county taxpayers have paid about $585,000.00 dollars more to operate the jail because we’ve been operating since that time under extended contracts that just keep getting extended. Should this hemorrhaging continue through December and before Judge Rader assumes command at the Sheriff’s Office it could easily amount to more than 1.17 Million Dollars and more since we lost any income to offset the cost not included in the figure.

Given all of this why hasn’t Sheriff Patterson, Jim Cooper, Craig McNair or the Commissioners Court not made a decision? Apparently none can or will. And given that County Judge Craig McNair, Commissioner Charlotte Warner and Commissioner Norman vote consistantly as a solid major they are running the County and making ALL the decisions. What can anybody do about that?

It appears that soon Lynn Greenwood of Texas A&M University Central Texas may soon be coming to Liberty and we may soon have a committee for her to join to study the whole situation and inform us concerning her findings.

As an update after the meeting on Tuesday when new facts and course of action are revealed we will update this report.

See related story... It’s Budget Time at Liberty County EDITORIAL

UPDATE: Both of the items below were passed by Commissioners Court Tuesday, June 13, 2012 .



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