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Fort Bend County, At Large
By Cheryl Skinner

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.


 

That inmate thing

I don’t want to sound like I’m beating a dead horse, but it seems like the overcrowding at the Fort Bend County jail could be somewhat reduced by getting the trusty who is supposed to be serving time in a state prison, out of local custody and into one of those state jail cells.

This week, once again, sheriff’s officials are seeking additional funds to house inmates at out of county facilities. Maybe it all makes sense to them, but to this reporter it would just sensible that criminals sentenced to prison should go there. Now how complicated is that? While sheriff’s officials are quick to point out that the trusty population (most of whom are state jail inmates who are serving their time in the local jail by mutual agreement with the state and Fort Bend County) provides valuable cleaning and cooking services to the jail population. However, since Fort Bend County taxpayers are footing the bill for out of county inmate housing to the tune of $40 per day, per inmate, it seems like any old crook would like to cook and clean. I mean there are dozens of inmates awaiting trial who could provide temporary domestic duties at the jail. They have no place else to go for goodness sakes. I mean do you have to be a gourmet chef or master baker to fix meals for jail inmates? And, do they have to be like “regulars” or professional, long term inmates to do errands? Let’s just say there are 35 state jail inmates (that was the figure I was given) doing trusty work. That is $1,400 per day that we could save if those inmates were shipped off to the state and a comparable number of inmates were returned to the local facility for detention. That is $42,000 per month and slightly over a half million dollars a year that could be saved. And, from what I’ve been told there are inmates that were sentenced to state prison but have not been transferred that are being farmed out. They aren’t even cooking or cleaning—just eating and creating laundry.

Some people feel like the figures on overcrowding were being purposely inflated to get citizens to pass the bond election and approve funds for a new jail. Now I’m not accusing anyone of doing this sneaky little thing, but if that is true, whoever had this brain-storm of an idea might want to go back to the drawing board. The bond election has been approved, work is expected to start on the new jail next month—so it is over—send the inmates to the state. Even if the allegations aren’t true, it is time to take a look at each and every inmate to see what can be done to get them out of the local jail.

Heck, we already know that by cleaning out the jail population it will free up beds and if we come up with a surplus, we can then charge the federal government to house those inmates. If we are smart we can use the federal detainees to cook and clean while we bill the feds for their care. Now that sounds like a plan!

 

Contact skinnerc1@ev1.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:  November 01, 2006