Potter County jail contract renewed with Childress

AMARILLO, Texas----Potter County Commissioners agreed Dec. 12 to renew the sheriff department's contract with a neighboring jail to help with an ongoing overcrowding problem.

Outside the Potter County Jail, you would never know that inside lies an overcrowding issue.

"Our issue right now is with our females," Sheriff Brian Thomas says. "Our female population is extremely high and we have 96 female beds and 100 females."

All together, the jail has about 600 beds, with a little more than 500 occupied as we speak.

There is still plenty of room available now, but that's not the case throughout the year.

"It's an issue that's constantly out there and we just have to watch it," he said.

Every so often, the jail surpasses its maximum occupancy, forcing inmates into other facilities like the Childress Jail.

Potter County signed an agreement with Childress last year allowing inmates to be transferred there when its jail overflowed.

We're told it costs you the taxpayer about $35 a day per inmate to house at nearby jails.

Over the summer, Sheriff Thomas said about 20 inmates had to be transferred to the Childress jail for about a month.

That's roughly $22,000 a year of your tax money.

"It's very close to the same costs that it costs us to house them here," Potter County Commissioner Joe Kirkwood said.

On average, it costs Texas taxpayers about $12,000 to $14,000 a year to house each inmate.

When asked about expanding the jail, Commissioner Kirkwood said it's not likely.

"There are certain times and seasons when the numbers peak a little bit to where we get close to maximum capacity," Kirkwood said. "It's been that way for a number of years and we continue to function with the numbers that we have."

Sheriff Thomas also says a local jail expansion is not on the agenda anytime soon.