Potter County Commissioners approve inmate overflow contracts

Potter County Commissioners approve inmate overflow contracts

Amarillo, TX -  Officials at the Potter County Detention Center now have another choice in handling the overcrowding.

As the number of inmates at the potter county detention center grows, space and supplies are continuing to decline.

The United States has the largest total prison population of any nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Today, Potter County Commissioners met yet again to discuss the inmate overcrowding issue that plagues the area. When the Potter County Detention Center runs out of space, inmates are sent to Childress County.

Today, they approved a renewal of that contract, and another.

"We went ahead and contracted with Randall County also in the event that we get so overcrowded that we can just run them south of Amarillo," says County Judge Nancy Tanner. "It's worth it to us to save gas and manpower."

To house an inmate in Childress County, it costs $40. To house one in Randall County, $65.

While cheaper, the convenience of transporting inmates to and from the facility is anything but easy.

"You're looking at probably 5 hours, 2 officers on the road with however many inmates your transporting to that facility as opposed to Randall County, we can probably be there in 15-20 min and back and the whole trip would take an hour or less," says Randall County Sheriff Captain Coffee.

Tanner says the problem does not seem to be getting any better.

"Lately it's become more prevalent," says Tanner." Like I say, every commissioners court we have a jail count. The Sheriff gives us the jail count and every time almost every time, we have at least 10-15 of the prisoners go to Childress and they're all female."

Tanner says there is a solution to lessen the population in the Potter County Detention Center. She says with nearly 50 percent of inmates living with a mental disorder, a mental health court would be key.

"If we start in increments of 10 or 15 at a time to get them out of our jail and get them on probation and get them out of the system, that will free up some space and we may not have to use Childress and Randall County too much," says Tanner.

The contracts are good for one year, so come next year commissioners will have to approve them once again.