Local Sheriff's Office Sees Recent Spike In Jail Population

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WACO (December 16, 2012) - The holiday season can bring crime, and headaches to anyone running a county jail. According to the McLennan County Sheriff's Office, inmate population has significantly increased this holiday season at McLennan County Jail on Hwy 6.

The crowded space, according to Chief Deputy Sheriff Randy Plemons, is unusual this time of year.

"It's surprising because this time of year, numbers are traditionally lower," Plemons said.

"But you know we don't get a 'say-so' when it comes to our numbers, we're kind of the only place in town you can bring inmates to."

Regardless, the McLennan County Sheriff's Office likes to stay prepared.

More jail staff was required after the total number of days inmates spent inside the jail spiked from 309,781 to 328,777 during 2007. Since then, jail staff has seen a 23.6% increase even though total prisoner days have fluctuated.

"You never know the entire circumstances surrounding an individual coming into the jail," Plemons said.

"Once they are in your jail, they are under your care and custody. You have to take care of those needs until they are out of your jail."

According to the 2011 McLennan County Annual Financial report, total prisoner days saw a sharp increase from the years 2010 to 2011. In 2010, there were 312,150 prisoner days. In 2011, 322,965 prisoner days.

Even though official numbers aren't available yet, Plemons expects the number of prisoner days to be high for the year 2012.

"The numbers have increased from this time last year so I would expect the official numbers to be somewhat higher than 2011," Plemons said.

So should taxpayers expect to pay for more jail staff in the future?

Plemons says 'no' unless the jail expands. But the decision, if made, lies in the hands of McLennan County commissioners and the newly elected sheriff.