Housing Agreement With Rockwall County, Architect For New ‘Trustee Housing Facility’ Approved Too
Several jail-related items were approved this week. The jail budget required amending to balance additional food costs not factored into the 2020-21 budget. An interlocal cooperation agreement with Rockwall County and an architect to construct the new Hopkins County Jail ‘Trustee Housing Facility’ too received approval from county officials.
Hopkins County Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook asked the Commissioners Court to approve a budget amendment moving some of the funds received from housing of federal inmates at Hopkins County jail into the jail food fund to cover the additional food costs associated with their housing.
“The food budget is over because we are full at the jail. We have more inmates. I don’t want to let the budget go out at the end of the year over. So, my recommendation is to do a budget amendment on it. My recommendation is taking $100,000 from the federal inmate revenue and moving it into the jail food budget, which will bring that budget in line. I have a spread of cash on that for you, so you can tell how they’ve come in on that money,” Aulsbrook said. “They’ve brought in, after you’ve done the two budget amendments, they’ll clear $647,918 – after you do this budget amendment.”
“We have had a lot of problems this year,” County Sheriff Lewis Tatum said. “Me and Tanner [Crump, chief deputy] looked over it. Like, our cooking oil went up from $20 to $42. I mean, everything has doubled in price that we do have to purchase. We’re still making quite a bit of money; I think it’s still worth the process
“I would say absolutely it is worth the process, but we did not increase their food budget to account for the additional feeding,” Aulsbrook said.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker noted the increase is due in part to inflation. Bartley said the court would need to keep that in mind when budgeting for next year. Aulsbrook concurred it would need to be addressed at some point.
Barker made the motion, which Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Anglin seconded, to approved the budget amendment, moving $100,000 from the federal inmate revenue fund to the jail food budget to cover increased costs of feeding those housed inside Hopkins County Law Enforcement Center on federal charges. The court unanimously approved the jail food budget amendment.
Hopkins County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tanner Crump asked the Commissioners Court during their regular session Monday to renew the interlocal cooperation agreement between Hopkins County and Rockwall County for inmate housing.
“We have an agreement with Rockwall. In the past, we housed their inmates for a certain per diem or bed rate per day. Currently, we’re not housing any of their inmates,” Crump told the Commissioners Court during the regular session Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. “They are in the process of finishing building 400-600 bed facility. So, I believe it’s good that we keep the contract in case we get into a situation where we need to house there or they need to house with us in the future. As of right now, it’s just a formality to have that option.”
Barker asked if the agreement is a two way agreement which not only allows Rockwall County inmates to be housed in the Hopkins County jail, but for Hopkins County inmates to be housed in the Rockwall County jail, if the need were to arise.
Crump said while it isn’t necessarily a two-way housing agreement, the continued relationship between Hopkins and Rockwall County officials would help facilitate a new agreement that would be drawn up at that time. He said he does not, based on the current Hopkins County jail facility, foresee the need arising anytime soon
“In the event of a disaster or some sort of situation where we have to evacuate our jail, this would be another place we could put people,” Crump said of the Rockwall County jail facility. “We have a great working relationship with Franklin County, Hunt County, Lamar County and Wood County, but you never know if they are going to be at capacity in those times. You never know what can happen. It’s better safe than sorry to work together to have this formalized.”
The motion, made by Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley and seconded by Barker, to approve the interlocal agreement between Hopkins and Rockwall Counties for inmate housing passed unanimously.
Trustee Housing Facility
DRG Architects, LLC, was selected to construct a new housing facility for jail trusties, to be located north of Houston Street across from the Hopkins County jail.
“We are at capacity now. Of course, it will be more than a year from now. We’ve got to get started on this contract with the architect,” County Judge Robert Newsom said.
Newsom said the county attorney and Commissioners Court have gone over the agreement, as had sheriff’s officer personnel.
Sheriff Lewis Tatum agreed, noting that while one additional meeting is still planned very soon, he believes the county is “pretty close to having everything we need to do on that.”
“DRG is the same architect that built our current facility and this contract is very similar in line with that, with very few minor adjustments. We had a very pleasant positive experience with our current facility and DRG being our architect. There was not much deviation in the contract. It’s just an operating contract for them to serve as our architect,” Crump said.
Hopkins County officials plan to use a portion of the $7-plus million the county has been awarded in American Rescue Program funding to construct the trustie housing building. The facility would keep the trusteis, who work in the community, separate from other inmates as a safety precaution against COVID-19 or any other illness being spread, and to better keep contraband such as snuff or controlled substance out of the county jail.
The new facility, officials said in a prior meeting, would be constructed to house up to 48 beds for male jail trusties, while female trusties remain in B Hall dorm at the jail. Jail trusties are utilized on work assignments daily throughout the county, including on County Commissioners’ precinct crews, some assist at Hopkins County Civic Center, others maintain the grounds at county office buildings. Female inmates clean in offices and buildings all over the county, including the clerk’s offices and courthouses. Tatum estimated 35-36 trusties can be found on any given day on work detail.
The current plan is for the f the male trusties would lodge in the new Trustee Housing Facility. Having the male inmates at a separate facility would be easier for jail staff and those individuals who pick the inmates up for their work detail. The THF would allow for better monitoring during the pick up and drop off process without causing congestion in the main booking area at the jail, which could potentially present a safety issue.
Constructing the facility too will free up space in the county jail so the inmate count remains below the count recommended by state jail standards inspectors. The inmate limit is 192, but jail standards officials recommend keeping 10 beds open, to accommodate an influx over the weekend, Hopkins County Sheriff Lewis Tatum explained during a prior Commissioners Court meeting.