On any given day, Henderson County Jail has a population larger than some of the county's incorporated towns.
Keeping the population fed, clothed, cared for and supervised is an expensive job. This year, as Commissioners Court budget talks are underway, the proposed figure for jail expense for 2020 is about $6.7 million.
"We can hold 509 prisoners, but per Jail Standards, we've got to leave 10 percent of the space open, so technically, we can hold, 448," Hillhouse said.
The county was housing 94 prisoners from other counties on Monday. Henderson County contracts with them for a price per-prisoner to house them when lack of space of other issues require them to be moved.
"We have about 390 in jail, so about a fourth of them are from out-of-county," Hillhouse said.
Most of the out-of-county prisoners on Monday were from one of two counties, Hillhouse said. Forty-one were from Van Zandt and 50 from Rockwall. They pay Henderson County $35-per-day for each prisoner.
The numbers of contract prisoners vary because of situations within the prisoners’ home counties. For example, in 2018 a situation in Anderson County resulted in Henderson County housing some of its prisoners for a short time, because the Anderson County Sheriff's Office couldn't meet staffing requirements.
County Judge Wade McKinney's 2020 proposed budget projects revenue from $500,000 out-of-county inmates.
"People don't realize, Henderson County is not metropolitan, but it's a large county as far as population and size," Hillhouse said.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards lists the incarceration rate for all of the jails in the state. As of the last listed report on July 1, Henderson County, with a population of 82,299 had a rate of 3.8 per 1,000. The county rates in the top quarter of the state with the highest incarceration rates.
Texas has 246 county jails housing individuals with both misdemeanor and felony offenses of various degrees. They also temporarily house parole violators and individuals awaiting transfer to another type of correctional facility.