Sheriff: Washington County Detention Center Overcrowding Causing Issues

WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- The Washington County Detention Center is overcrowded. The overcrowding is a concern to several county officials.

There are currently 710 beds in the jail. Sheriff Tim Helder said the overcrowding issue at jail has reoccurred several times within past years.

Helder also said the current jail was built to sustain the population for 10 years, and is three years overdue for an expansion. It was built during 2005.

Washington County Justice of the Peace Eva Madison said she hopes those in the county will work together to find a creative solution to fix the issue.

There are ideas being suggested. Some suggest releasing inmates early and others suggest an increase in sales tax.

She also said the issue is a safety concern regarding jailers.

"In just a matter like one to two years we could have some serious overcrowding issues, and overcrowding issues put our employees and our guards in danger," Madison said.

She said for an expansion, an extra sales tax will be needed in the county.

"We've just got too many pre-trial detainees down there, these are people who are accused but not actually convicted," Madison added.

Madison said, "Whether its working with the courts to get people out to assign them to community service as opposed to setting in jail... we've done all of those things but we're still at or close to capacity."