Overcrowded county jail forced to transfer imates

Tony Parra

If three is a crowd then what does 76 mean? Unfortunately that number means overcrowding for the Roosevelt County Detention Center.
The facility has a 58-person capacity, so currently many of the 76 inmates are crammed three to a cell and some are having to sleep on the floor, county officials said.
“We’ve been dealing with it the best way we can,” Roosevelt County Detention Administrator Jesse Luera said. “We have made the county commission aware of the situation and they have been very helpful. They have helped us address the situation.”
The commission last week approved the transfer of several detainees to the Dickens County Detention Center in Dickens, Texas. Luera said Dickens County officials have also approved the paperwork for transfers, and by early next week roughly 15 RCDC inmates will be transferred.
This is the first year Roosevelt County will transfer male inmates, but it has transferred female inmates to Curry and Quay counties.
The same expenses were associated with those transfers.
Some are blaming the rise of inmates on probation violations, but Luera said there are many reasons for overcrowding.
“We haven’t been making any more arrests than usual,” Richard Short of the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department said. “We’ve been having a lot more probation violations. When they break their parole, if they have nine months left on their probation the judge, most of the time, will sentence them to jail time for the duration.”
However, supervisor Rick Tull of the Adult Probation Office is not so sure.
“Probation violators are easy targets for the increase,” Tull said. “The numbers don’t back it up. We’ve had 78 discharges this year.”
Fifteen probation violators in the adult probation system have been sentenced to jail time this year, according to Tull’s figures. Probation officer Larry Boreing of the magistrate probation system for misdemeanor offenders said many of his clients have gone to jail this year for probation violations. But violators from his office typically only stay in jail for two, maybe three days, Boreing said.
Short said in the past four years he has not seen the total number of inmates go under 60. He that the number has grown above 80 inmates at times.
Dickens county will take care of the cost for transferring the inmates while Roosevelt County officials will pay $38 per inmate, per day to house and feed each of the inmates. The price is the same to house inmates at the RCDC so no money is being lost, County Administrator Charlene Hardin said.
Currently the 500-bed Dickens County jail has about 160 spare beds, and housing inmates from Roosevelt County will provide that county extra funds, Luera explained.
The transfer of inmates is only a temporary solution, and the Roosevelt County Commission is exploring a permanent solution for the problem. The county commission may decide to add on to the current facility or build a new detention center to accommodate for overcrowding.
The NCA Architects company out of Albuquerque is working on the feasibility of a new detention center or adding to the current one.
“They are wrapping up their studies, right now,” Hardin said. “I hope they will be done by Oct. 1. Overcrowding is a problem and Jesse is doing a good job of handling the situation. It needs to be addressed for the safety of employees and inmates.”