(Photo Courtesy Micah Williams) Coryell County Courthouse
CORYELL COUNTY (February 20, 2013) --- Dustin Boyd, who took over as Coryell County district attorney in January, says he's working to streamline the process of moving cases through the justice system to save taxpayers money, time and space at the jail.
"My philosophy was to change some of the culture and some of the dynamics of how we processed criminal offenses in the felony court," Boyd said.
Boyd previously worked in the office of the Coryell County Attorney for three years and also traveled to Sudan with the United Nations where he worked on building a justice system for more than a year.
When he ran for office he said he knew he needed to find ways to unclog the court docket and get some of the more important cases to center stage.
This month his office will present almost 60 cases before a grand jury in an effort to work through a backlog.
Boyd said he hopes to present an average of 30-40 cases each month after that.
More plea bargains may also be offered in certain situations, meaning that fewer cases that will have to work through the court system.
"We provide offers faster, we provide certain kinds of offers at different stages of the case and all those offers are going to be designed in relation to community expectations, victims' requests and at the end what we believe is just and right to dispose of the case," Boyd said.
But the plea bargains won't last forever and will come with a drop dead date.
"If the defendant has not received and agreed to the plea offer that we provided by a certain date that offer is no longer available," Boyd said.
The option of probation through possible plea bargains and less time in jail awaiting trial dates could help overcrowded conditions at the Coryell County Jail in Gatesville.
Last week the 92-bed facility had 111 inmates.
Coryell County Sheriff Johnny Burks said the cost to house an inmate is about $55 a day.
"There's no sense in housing them in the jail for an extended period of time if you know that they're going to get automatic probation anyway," Burks said.
Boyd said he's hoping to cut down on cases that may fall through the cracks of the justice system which will save taxpayers money that would be spent on housing inmates.
In January alone Boyd said his office has worked to catch up by dismissing 54 cases, and consolidating 16 cases. The dismissal rate should go down after the screening and plea bargain processes pick up.
"You don't want to waste resources in getting prepared for a trial that's going to plea the day of and you don't want to waste my citizen's time that's gotten a jury summons to come up to the court house just to find out that we reached a deal that morning---those are things I'm not interested in," Boyd said.