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Contract Approved To House Federal Inmates at Hopkins County Jail

Hopkins County Commissioners Court Monday morning approved a temporary contract with the US Marshals Service to house federal inmates at Hopkins County jail.

The contract is for 150 days and would allow up to 30 federal inmates to be housed at the county jail at a rate of $60 a day. During the contract period, a survey will be conducted to see what the actual rate would be if county is offered a full-time contract, Hopkins County Sheriff Lewis Tatum explained.

Officials have visited the county jail three times to check things out, and meet with Jail Administrator Kenneth Dean and Chief Deputy Tanner Crump.

While the contract is for 150 days, the US Marshals Service “is pretty pleased with our facility.” They anticipate that it will take less than the 150 days for the county to be offered a full-time contract to house federal inmates.

The agreement provides for $20 an hour per guard if additional staff is needed, $20 per hour if the county’s videoconferencing system is used, plus 58-cents per mile if Hopkins County opts to transport inmates for the service as well. 

“This would not put us over our cap, which that is what we strive for,” Dean said.

The county currently plans to utilize part-time jail staff to help with the increased jail population, but has a few jail positions open that can be filled as needed.

If the county were to conduct transports of federal inmates, an additional transport officer would likely be needed.

“We can do this first period and see about how it’s going to work out. We’ll use what we’ve got, and we’ll make do with what we have and see,” Tatum said.

If the county opted to transport federal inmates for the Marshal’s service, they’d be transferred to Hopkins County from Sherman, Tyler, Texarkana and Plano, then from Hopkins County to that court system there or to a federal penitentiary. These would be extended holds for federal inmates, not overnight stays as the county sometimes provides for inmate transport services. Most would likely stay months, as they await court dates, according to the sheriff.

“The federal court system works a lot different from the state. When they are picked up they are held until their court dates, a lot time they are not offered bond so they could be here for quite a while,” Tatum said.

“I think this is a really good option for us to house up to 30 inmates for them,” said Hopkins County Sheriff Lewis Tatum Tatum said.

When asked by a commissioner whether the federal inmates would be any more violent than those currently in custody in Hopkins County jail, Tatum pointed out that there are currently five individuals in custody who have been accused of murder. He said whatever they bring, the county jail staff is capable of handling

However, Tatum said it’s his understanding that most of the federal inmates sent to Hopkins County will be in for custody on “white collar” charges than those in custody for violent crimes. Although, Tatum said, the county could potentially house some federal inmates in custody on charges for sex offenses.

The federal inmates will not be working as part of the trustee program to go off the property. Per the federal rules, they are not allowed to leave unless being transported for a court proceeding or to a federal penitentiary, according to Dean.

The county is currently housing 13 inmates from Rockwall County until the inmates can be transferred to Texas Department of Criminal Justice. They are anticipated to be housed at Hopkins County Law Enforcement Center for a minimum of 1-2 months. Rockwall County pays a rate, per the contact between the two counties, of $50 a head. Hopkins County also has a contract with Hunt County to house inmates as needed.

Dean said housing the inmates would not put the county jail at full capacity.

Housing the federal inmates could generate up to $1,800 a day in revenue for the county, if the maximum of 30 federal inmates were housed at the county jail, Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom pointed out.

“This is a great opportunity for us to house federal inmates. We’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. This just came about,” Tatum said.

The county can begin housing the federal inmates as soon as the contact is approved, Tatum said, noting that it’s nice to see the tables turned. He referred to the years prior to the construction and opening of the new jail, when the aging jail facility was often at or over capacity, and on occasion required Hopkins County inmates to be housed in other counties.

The Commissioners Court unanimously approved the special facility use contract with US Marshals Service to house up to 30 federal inmates a day for the next 150 days.

Hopkins County Law Enforcement Center, 298 Rosemont St., Sulphur Springs, Texas

Author: Faith Huffman

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