November 8, 2022 - Sheriff Kevin Windham and Don Moore, Jail Administrator, provided an update to the commissioners on the current population of the Shelby County Jail during their October 26, 2022, meeting.
At the previous weeks meeting of the Commissioners' Court Roscoe McSwain, Commissioner Precinct 1, had made a point of directing the other commissioners to pay attention to the overtime pay being made to some jailers.
"What I'm here for is to address some of the concerns about our jail and those would include our jail population, meal cost and things of that nature, our overtime, and of course the court has shown interest in all of these items," said Sheriff Windham.
Sheriff Windham indicated Moore was there with some of the numbers to help make them aware of what the jail is contending with at this time.
The jail has 66 beds; however, as Moore explained that doesn't mean the jail can actually house 66.
"The proper numbers have to fall in line, you have to have so many females and also we classify inmates as they come in as medium, minimum or maximum security and we by law can house [medium] and maximum together, but we can't house minimum and maximum," said Moore.
Criminal history and the charge they have while they are in the jail are calculated to designate each inmates classification.
"Mental health's not going anywhere, we have four separation cells in our jail and right now they're housed with four severely mentally ill inmates," said Moore. "They can't be in general population, they can't survive in general population, it's a constant fight, a constant battle in there. So, they have to be in those individual cells."
This leads to another difficulty, according to Moore, when they receive a violent inmate while having those other cells occupied that violent inmate may spend a day alone in the holding tank. Moore stated that by law they can only be in such a situation for 48 hours.
"They have to have access to a shower, have to have access to recreation one hour a day and that leads to a problem, which leads to disciplinary problems," said Moore.
Examples of disciplinary problems that Moore highlighted include, not being able to put those violent inmates in a single cell, not being able to take away phone privileges because taking away one would then mean taking away from all inmates in that cell.
"The rest of them are six, four and eight man tanks. One inmate can be causing all kinds of problems and when you discipline, you discipline them all," said Moore.
He said if commissary is taken away from one inmate, a way they have found around that is to have family members put money on someone else's account who's in the cell where they are housed and that inmate buys commissary for them.
"[This] leads to a lot of disrespect inside the jail for our officers who have to deal with a lot," said Moore.
He indicated there needs to be a way to find places for mental health inmates to go to open up those cells they occupy.
The current actual population in the jail was 56 and he said those who are in on violation of probation, parole, and failure to appear need to get in and out of there as quickly as possible.
"That's the problem inside the jail as we speak right now with the housing mainly because the four cells are taken up with mental health people, and I have other mental health people, I have one in holding right now waiting on a bed somewhere else I have no place to put him," said Moore.
Moore said that in the previous years $149,443.65 was spent on food for the inmates and he is searching for ways to keep the food costs down, meanwhile the cost of food continues to rise and the jail continues to have a higher population.
One suggestion Moore had was to have a "Kitchen Boss" in the kitchen once again to help prevent waste. He said when the jail board was moved out of the dispatch and into its own location, that person then went to operate the jail board.
"I just wanted to let you know, for the year 2023 we're looking at going over budget again," said Moore.
Moore addressed the issue with the commissioners of overtime in the jail.
"We have 13 correctional officers, including myself, we also have three part-time officers one of which we just hired," said Moore. "We have two young men that are temporary licensed, they can't work by there self yet because they only have a temporary license by the state, they've not been fully licensed by the state to work by there self."
Moore explained issues they run into with overtime in the jail is they have to have one officer for 48 inmates and this means there have to be two officers in the jail at all times, plus one on the jail board. This puts three officers on 12 hours shifts totaling six officers a day. One officer has been out on family medical leave, another one has been dealing with another medical issue, and a third was out.
"By law we have to have that one to 48 we can't just ignore that, we have to have two officers back there," said Moore. "Two of them is not licensed, so our supervisors had to work in those places while those men were out, and what that does, it creates a lot of overtime for them."
He explained the jail board operator doesn't really count as a third, because they can't leave the board, they must stay there to control the doors.
Commissioners Bellmyer inquired the definition of a high-risk pregnancy, which refers to an inmate in the jail, and Moore stated that meant she was at risk for losing the baby.
"She was supposed to be in court this week, but her attorney has Covid so it had to be postponed," said Sheriff Windham.
Judge Allison Harbison presented a service agreement between Integrated Prescription Management and Shelby County Indigent Healthcare for the commissioners to consider.
"All of our pharmacies in this county have elected not to take our indigent healthcare program so Jenney [Chessher] and I reached out to IHS who handles our indigent healthcare, that's who we use to help us throughout how to do the program," said Judge Harbison.
IHS introduced Judge Harbison to Integrated Prescription Management who will take over the prescription portion of indigent healthcare and bill the county for that service.
Other counties who utilize Integrated Prescription Management have reported saving money for their indigent healthcare programs.
A motion carried to enter into a one year contract with IPM to provide indigent healthcare pharmaceutical support.
Agenda items approved during the meeting include: 1. Pay weekly expenses. 2. Current Payroll. 3. Commissioner Pct 4 Tom Bellmyer to purchase a new pickup Truck with cash funds in the amount of $39,500 4. Continue burn ban. 5. Service Agreement between Integrated Prescription Management and Shelby County Indigent Healthcare. 6. Award the purchase of election equipment to Election Systems and Software Elections in the amount of $197,256 to be funded by American Rescue Plan Act funds. 7. Select ALert Company for roofing services for the County Jail and Sheriff's Office through TIPS contract #21060301 to be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act Funds in the amount of $386,275. 8. Adjourn at 10:33am Agenda items tabled during the meeting include: 1. District Attorney Karren Price to present a proposed budget for the Pretrial Intervention Program Fund pursuant to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 102, Article 102.0121 which requires the Commissioner's to approve her proposed budget.