Potter County signs agreement with Lubbock to avoid inmate overc - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Potter County signs agreement with Lubbock to avoid inmate overcrowding

Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA

As of yesterday, the Potter County Detention Center had 599 beds available and 598 inmates, but a new inter-local agreement between Lubbock and Potter County will allow Potter County to transfer certain male inmates to Lubbock to free space if needed. 

"It's been really pretty critical for us, and we don't like that," said Sheriff Brian Thomas. "It makes for a tough time for the guys out there. The inmates get a little restless because it's so packed, so it's pretty tough."

The damage done by Hurricane Harvey also played a role in the crowding of the detention center due to a delay on the transportation of some inmates.

"We wanted to get this in place just in case we had to do that part of the backup, and most people don't realize the Texas Department of Criminal Justice had to shut down for a couple of weeks," said Thomas. "They didn't really shut down, but they weren't taking in any of our prisoners because their prisoners were displaced." 

Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner says this is only a "break glass in case of emergency situation" and wants to avoid using taxpayers money unless they have no other choice.

"Like you said, this is break glass here if needed, so we're waiting to see if our population does get so bad that we have to take some down there," said Tanner. "It's expensive on our part because the travel alone is a two to four hour process, and it's $65 a day per inmate, so we have to be careful, not just with tax payer money but with the population."

Drug abuse has been one of the main causes for the increased prison population in Potter County.

"I do know that drugs are a big issue, and I'm not talking about marijuana," said Tanner. "I'm talking the big powerful, dangerous drugs people are doing. These days it just seems to be the common denominator for a lot of our problems in the county jail."

The agreement has not been used yet, but having it in place reduces stress on both inmates and officers. 

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