Pubdate: Fri, 16 Feb 2007
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2007 Amarillo Globe-News
Bookmark: (Incarceration)
Bookmark: (Opinion)


Numbers In Potter County Show Problem

For a couple of years now, elected officials in Potter County have
been telling anyone that will listen that something is going to have
to be done about the problem of prison and jail overcrowding.

From the sheriff to commissioners, there is agreement that this
problem is growing, quite literally, in Potter County.

Randall Sims, 47th District Attorney, sounded the alarm once again
Monday about the numbers at the Potter County Detention Center - and
the role the state is playing in these problems.

According to a recent report by Sims, there were 140 sentenced felons
in the PCDC waiting for the state to take them off Potter County's
hands. The jail count presented during Monday's Commissioner's Court
meeting was 548.

It is not uncommon for nearly one-third of the jail's population to be
state-ready inmates.

Sims cited many reasons for the overcrowding, including population
increases and more law enforcement personnel, but there is no denying
that the logjam at the state level is not helping.

"The total jail population may fluctuate, but it has been pretty
consistent on our felony numbers," Sims said.

According to Sims, there were approximately 1,900 felony indictments
in 2005 and 2,200 in 2006.

"That's due in part to population growth, repeat offenders and more
arrests," Sims said.

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has indicated support for more state
prisons, but there doesn't seem to be many lawmakers who agree.

"I espouse the theory that the state ought to build a new prison at
least every five years, just to keep up with population growth , if
nothing else," Sims said.

The 125,000-square-foot PCDC was completed in November 1995. The
facility has 576 beds, a 20-bed infirmary and two "violent cells." The
PCDC is home to a variety of inmates, including those waiting for
either the state or feds to take them to a new home.

When the discussion is prison/jail overcrowding, the state can't wait
any longer to ease this burden on counties.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin