McClennan County officials recently approved the hire of 12 new jailers in order to comply with staffing standards stipulated by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS). According to reports in the Waco Tribune, the decision was reached after two hour closed door meeting with their county attorneys.
TCJS issued a notice of noncompliance to local officials in December of 2007, when the facility failed state inspection due to staffing concerns. According to reports, as of April 2008, the county had not responded. The jail is run by CivicGenics, a private prison corporation that is a subsidiary of Community Education Centers, Inc.
McLennan County pays $27.50 a day for each of the first 50 inmates housed in the CiviGenics facility on Columbus Avenue. The rate goes to $28.50 a day for 51 to 70 inmates, and $31 for each inmate from 71 to 90. After 91 inmates, the rate jumps to $41.95 a day, officials have said.
County officials authorized an additional $203,000 to hire 12 new employees to staff the jail. The facility has been out of compliance with TCJS for years as it has struggled with jail crowding issues. Rather than identify community alternatives to reduce incarceration, like rethinking law enforcement practices, the county has received variances from the state agency to meet capacity demands.
While officials, have already authorized funding they are currently exploring other options.
They hired a jail magistrate this year to try to set bonds faster and ease overcrowding. They also have asked for an attorney general’s opinion to answer a number of legal concerns about the use of ankle monitors, proposed to help clear out the jail while monitoring alleged offenders.
Yet, the struggle to find jail capacity continues and the consequences are real -- resulting in additional expenses of taxpayer's money. Earlier this week, the privately managed facility held 965 detainees, when the current capacity is only 931.