Overcrowding Could Lead to Bigger Issue

There is apparently no room left at the Potter County Jail. The facility is so overcrowded a bail bondsman says the jail is turning away people arrested for parole violations, who should be behind bars.

Newschannel 10's Marissa Bagg spent the day looking into just how big this problem is. 

   When we heard there was a possibility criminals weren't being held in the Potter County Jail because there was no space - we went to Sheriff Mike Shumate and Amarillo Police to see what they could tell us.

"There are those that are serious criminals that need to stay in custody and to think they won't put the hold on them because the jail is full, is kinda absurd," says Chris Konnecke, the general manager of Freedom Bail Bonds in Amarillo.

We posed Chris Konnecke's concerns to Amarillo Police, who confirmed Potter County told them there was a space issue at the jail.  "They said yeah we're being asked to let them go and not hold them on a parole violation. I said, so they could just commit a new crime? They said apparently, we're too full," says Konnecke.

"Due to the state regulations on how many prisoners a jail can hold, Potter County has had to put restrictions on the number and type of people we book into the Potter County Jail," says Sgt. Randy TenBrink with the Amarillo Police Department. 

Sheriff Shumate was hesitant to talk about the issue when we called him, but he confirmed the jail is overcrowded and that they are not booking parole violators arrested on Class C misdemeanors because the jail is too full. Class C misdemeanor arrests are incidents like minor assault, issuing a bad check and public intoxication.

But Konnecke suspects more serious offenders are being set free on our city streets.
"It's basically putting society in danger by not putting a parole violator in custody and not keeping them in custody," says Konnecke.

Konnecke says this situation should jump start discussions about adding onto the jail or building a new facility that can accommodate the county's need.