Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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July 3, 2014

More than two dozen prisoners imported from Van Zandt County Wednesday

Athens — The Henderson County Jail had received more than a couple of dozen prisoners from Van Zandt County on Wednesday morning who were moved because the jail in Canton was not in compliance with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

The moves began after the Henderson County Commissioners Court entered an agreement on Tuesday with its neighbor to house prisoners at a cost of $30 per day for each inmate. Henderson County reported 334 of its 509 beds filled on Wednesday morning.  The move was needed because of a failure of the VZ County locking system.

Van Zandt County officials were anticipating that the prisoners might need to be housed for about two weeks. Henderson County charges $30 per day for out-of-county inmate upkeep.

Along with Henderson County, the 120 Van Zandt County inmates were being sent to Kaufman and Upshur counties.

According to an Associated Press story, Sheriff Michael Lindsey Ray said Tuesday that inmates figured out a way to compromise the locking  systems. The sheriff wasn’t saying exactly how that was accomplished. Despite the opportunity, no one escaped from the VZ County Jail prior to their out-of-county transfer.

Henderson County reported a county jail population of 322 on June 23, with 47 out-of-county contract prisoners. 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.

On June 23, the TCJS reported that four counties had jails that were out of compliance. The Freestone County Jail had to pass an inspection by a fire-certified fire marshal in order to be compliant.

Emergency electrical power also failed during a jail walk-through. Other out-of-compliance facilities were in Maverick County and San Patricio County.

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