More people choosing jail time over fines costing Taylor County money


ABILENE, Texas - A large number of those receiving citations from the city are choosing to sit out their time in jail, rather than pay a fine. This is causing strain on both the jail and the county.

The Taylor County Jail has seen a large jump in the amount of daily inmates they house. Back in January of this year, the jail had 511 inmates daily compared to the month of July which has averaged about 585 daily.

Offenders are given the opportunity to set up a payment plan with the court, but many decide they can't afford it or choose not to pay the fine. Many of these offenders have warrants out for their arrest after not paying and are arrested.

There were about 25 inmates on Thursday sitting out city tickets. Most of those that choose to sit it out are there between two and five days. The county covers $100 per day of the fine. This goes day to day, not 24-hours.

The jail is also currently short-staffed so with additional bodies, comes additional hours. The state requires one jailer per 48 inmates. If the jail is just one inmate over, they have to add an additional officer.

According to administration, there are currently 100 corrections officers on the floor. The jail has room to house 826 inmates, 118 females and 708 males. The county has housed quite a few females lately.

"I have a lot of females, just all of a sudden, the count will go from 85 to 105," said Chief Terrie Noret, jail administrator. "So it's not really something you can predict, it just happens."

The county said that the large influx of inmates is not uncommon. They said when the temperature goes up, crime goes up.

The county did raise the cost it charges the city and other agencies to house inmates to $38 a day. This increase will go into effect in October.

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