Keeping Inmates Out of Jail... For Good

Too many of your tax dollars are being spent housing inmates, according to the Randall County Sheriff's Department. And now, they've come up with a plan to save you money, and help inmates at the same time.

It's called the Prisoner Re-Entry Education Program, and a bare bones version is already in place at the Randall County Jail. On Tuesday, they applied for federal grant money to make the program even better.

Tony Murphy is serving time for theft. But, this is not his first time behind bars. "I've been in and out of jail my entire life." And that happens more often than not for Texas inmates. 65% of them re-commit crimes and end up right back in jail.

And every time they do you are paying for it.

It costs taxpayers $58 a day per inmate at the Randall County Jail. The Sheriff's Department's Prisoner Re-Entry Program is aimed at saving you money. Sheriff Joel Richardson says, "If we only affect that by only half a percent or one percent we have made a big, big difference..." And keeping inmates out of jail for good.

Jail Administrator Captain Debbie Unruh says the program has specific goals. "First [they'll] be employed. That's a requirement. They'll learn to budget their money. They will start a savings account. They buy groceries. They cook, they clean, they do their own laundry."

This program is only for those inmates with a good work ethic and desire to better their lives. Those like Tony. "It's had a bigger impact than anything TDC has ever offered or that state jail has ever offered."

Richardson warns this program is no walk in the park, but says it's worth it. "This is not a fuzzy, feel good program. It will be a harder program than just sitting in jail."

If inmates can tough it out for the entire two years, saving money isn't the only advantage for taxpayers. Richardson says, "Not to mention the fact that it will affect whether or not you come home tonight and your house has been broken into."

It will take a few months before the Sheriff's Department finds out if they will receive the extra money.