Sheriff says higher pay needed to keep jailers, and inmates, here
Anderson County, Texas
   
 
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Citing staffing shortages caused largely by low pay, the Anderson County Jail has

begun housing inmates in neighboring Henderson County – at a cost of nearly $37,000 a month.

The Texas Commission of Jail Standards sets staffing requirements. Having fallen below the state-specified officer-to-inmate ratio, Anderson County was forced to find alternate housing for 35 inmates – and pay for it.

Under state standards, for example, four officers on the floor, one in processing and one in the control booth can supervise 192 inmates.

Sheriff Greg Taylor said he started talking to county commissioners again in March and April about resolving the staffing issue. As of May 30, Taylor said, the jail is down 12 jailers.

“The bottom line is the court can help me some,” Taylor told the Herald-Press on Wednesday. “They can't change the difficulty in recruiting people into this kind of work, but they can fix my pay structure so that it's a little more alluring to people.

“I've given them a plan that would cost about $70,000 to fix my jailer problem, increasing jailers start out pay to $30,000.”

To fix the entire salary issue for the sheriff' office, Taylor said, would cost a little under $200,000.

“If everyone got a pay raise, then I might maintain the deputies, investigators, and jailers I have, and be able to attract people to fill the positions we need to fill,” Taylor said.

Fully staffed, Taylor said, the county jail could hold 240 inmates. The jail averages 170 to 200, but the numbers typically rise during summer.

“We've been skating by without jailers, working a lot of overtime, for two or three years now,” Taylor said. “...It's a constant battle. Overtime is an issue. We probably spend $120,000 to $130,000 in overtime between jailers and deputies.”

Taylor said pay and working conditions are among the reasons it's hard to attract people to work in the jail.

Anderson County has lost jailers to Henderson County, just 35 minutes away, Taylor said, because it pays $34,000 a year and Taylor can offer only $27,000 to start.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice also competes for employees, Taylor said. TDCJ starts their corrections officer at $32,000, with step pay. An officer who has worked at the prison for three years makes about $38,000 Taylor said.

County Judge, the Honorable Robert Johnston, told the Herald-Press Tuesday that county officials are committed to resolving the issue of staff shortages. We're looking into officers' pay and benefits,” he said.

“Another problem is, the county has only a three-percent unemployment rate,” he said. “Those who want to work are typically already working.”

“One of the problems is, fewer people these days want to be in law enforcement,” Johnston said. “Across the board; the police department, the jail, sheriff's office and Texas Department of Criminal Justice are all below staffing requirements.”

Johnston said that, even when candidates do apply, making the transition from civilian to officer is not immediate, and it is not guaranteed.

“We're trying to recruit as best we can,” Johnston said. “However, we've notice fewer and fewer candidates are passing their background checks.”

Applicants with a felony on their record are disqualified. They must also undergo drug and credit checks.

Fortunately, Johnston said, the temporary housing of county inmates does not affect the court's caseload. “In no way does it make our backlog of cases worse,” he said.

Even so, many Anderson County inmates are separated from family members and children when housed at a county jail 35 miles away.

Those interested in being a jailer can pick up an application at the Anderson County Sheriff's Office, located at 1200 E. Lacy St., Palestine.

Taylor said his office has three employees in the academy now who will graduate in July.

 The cost of house an inmates in Anderson County is approximately $35 to $37 a day. The cost to house an inmate in another facility is typically around $42 to $45 a day. Taylor said Henderson County gave Anderson County a deal: Housing inmates for only $35 a day for Anderson County inmates, not including transportation costs.



Comments:
So, if the State of Texas sets standards for jail requirements, would it be too much to ask that the state require identical pay standards for identical work, no matter which county the work occurs in? Problem solved, don'tcha think??
Posted by Knick Kname at 6/3/2018 2:43:47 AM

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