Get inmates charged or they could be released. That's the warning Lubbock county judges are issuing. Right now, 22 inmates are waiting to be formerly charged and they've been jailed past their thirty-day time limit.
Agencies say the backlog problem is costing Lubbock tax-payers thousands of dollars. David Slayton, Director of court administration, says, "Jail population as of today (August 2nd) is 998 people, our jail holds 720 something people, it's an issue." It's an issue for all agencies. Slayton says, "Anywhere along the process it could get hung up." The process can get held up at any stage. The first stage is getting the police report. Next, the report is given to the District Attorney who determines if there will be charges. And if it's a felony case, the report goes to the grand jury for review.
But the judges don't care where the hang up is, they just want to solve it. Judge Jim Darnell says, "We needed to impose some rules and have everybody play by those rules instead of having people wait 2-3 months with their case not going to the grand jury." The new rules state the DA's office must file charges or have a detention hearing 15 days after a suspect is in jail on a misdemeanor, or 30 days after a felony.
But there's bigger issues than time. First of all, every person has the right to an expedient trial. Secondly, the longer inmates sit, the more taxpayers spend. Judge Darnell said, "People don't think about the cost. Things add up quickly."
If we total August 2nd's 22 inmates waiting for charges times the $36 it costs to keep them in Lubbock County Jail, it costs taxpayers nearly $800 a day, $5,000 a week, and almost $300,000 a year.
David Slayton says the bottom lines is, "To get these cases moving through, if not for civil liberties, for jail population."
The rule change is in effect immediately, and the courts scheduled detention hearings next week for 47 people who have been waiting in jail more than 30 days.
Lubbock Breaks Ground on $83 Million County Jail
|Courts & Crime|