Athens Review, Athens, Texas

November 30, 2013

Prison benefits

Increase of inmates good for county economy

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — Henderson County has benefited from an upswing in the number of out of county inmates housed in the jail in 2013.

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards November report shows the county with 117 out-of-county inmates. The main source of the prisoners is Smith County, which had more than 100 of its prisoners held elsewhere.

Henderson County receives more than $30 per day for each prisoner held for an outside entity.

The numbers are a pleasant turnaround from September of 2012 when only 14 out-of-county inmates were held in the Henderson County facility.

The total of contract inmates was running so low that Sheriff Ray Nutt told Commissioners Court that the days when Henderson County could plan on reaping the benefit of housing prisoners from other counties were numbered.

The Henderson County Jail was expanded in 2008 to end its need to board its prisoners in other counties. The expansion took the capacity from less than 200 beds to 509. In 2009, the county received $737,892 in revenue for housing out-of-county inmates. The amount in 2010 was $746,917, but fell off drastically the following year to $168,120.

The Commissioners Court only projected $50,000 revenue from out-of-county inmate housing in 2013. Sheriff Ray Nutt said other counties that began jail projects shortly after Henderson County’s expansion project now have those facilities up and going.

The county began 2013 with 41 out-of-county inmates. The number increased to 75 the following month. Contract inmates hit 94 in March and reached 123 in August. Armed with that information Commissioners Court budgeted an anticipated $400,000 in revenues for 2014. The county budgeted for 80 detention officers for 2014, up from 76 detention officers for 2013.