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Wed November 26, 2008
Hopkins County exploring new jail options
By Scott Harvey
Hopkins County – The Hopkins County Commissioners Court is exploring options into how to permanently solve the problem of overcrowding in the county's jail.
Earlier this month, the county entered into an interlocal agreement with Franklin and Titus counties that allows for the transportation of county inmates to those facilities when capacity is exceeded. Now, Commissioners are looking to either build a new facility or add space to its existing one.
Hopkins County Judge Cletus Millsap says all options are being explored, including the possibility of a privatized jail. The idea is the County would enter into a contract with a private firm, who would then sell bonds to the public who would endure the cost of building and operating the jail. The County would then lease space within the jail.
Additional meetings are to be held before officials come to a consensus, including a meeting with the executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The meeting, to take place next month, will include a presentation on the County's current situation and discussion of future goals.
The Commissioners Court is under the order of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards not to exceed 95% capacity, when in fact that figure has been breached several times. The Hopkins County Jail was built to accommodate 100 prisoners, but has held as many as 143 inmates in recent months.
Judge Millsap says effective communication and hard work on behalf of the Hopkins County district attorney and county judges has helped moved cases along and kept the inmate population lower than it has been in recent months.