Sunday, December 18, 2011

Understaffing at Midland County jail

Midland County is looking for warm bodies - just about any they can find - to staff the county jail. Reported this week:
They're experiencing a shortage, a hole that would take a dozen new jailers to adequately fill it.

"We got down as far as 20 at one time," Midland County Sheriff, Gary Painter, said. "We're having to work a lot of overtime with the employees that we have now, setting it up to where they have one day off a week, and working the other days overtime. It's been crucial for us to have enough people on the floor at one time in order to handle all of the situations that we've got to take care of."

They've been having this problem for more than a year now.

In jail blocks, there has to be one guard for every 48 prisoners and the jail has been known to house up to 360 prisoners over a single weekend.

This influx of inmates at the Midland County Jail is stretching their staff thin....

With the way this shortage is putting stress on the current jailers, Sheriff Painter fears he'll lose even more to exhaustion.

"We're needing to hire 12 employees right now," he said. "You can work people just so much and they get tired. They get burned out. Some of them are getting worn out pretty bad. Some of them have quit because of it."

The Midland County Sheriff's office is taking applications.
Sheriff Painter said no one with a criminal background will be able to work in the jail. Painter said as long as you are at least 18-years-old, pass the background check, drug test, a physical and a psychological test, you are eligible. 
This is almost becoming the norm in Texas jails, to understaff them considerably and make up the difference paying overtime at time-and-a-half. As a short-term fix, that's fine, but increasingly this is the structural solution to understaffing from budget to budget over many years. (The state's biggest jail in Harris County is the iconic example, among many others.) In Midland, the staffing problem is exacerbated by competition with oil-field work, with oil prices hovering around $100 per barrel.

The other option to paying overtime or hiring ever-more jailers is, of course, unthinkable: Arrest and/or incarcerate fewer people. We couldn't have that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anyone caught with ANY drug will be arrested and put in jail. No tickets or citations. Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars were spent on a "study" by Carl Griffith & Assoc. to have a better run operation. Wasted because they did not know the Texas Jail Commission Standards. No pity here.