Judges' Order Saving Taxpayer Dollars - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock


Judges' Order Saving Taxpayer Dollars

A week ago NewsChannel 11 first told you about a judges order to curb backlogging in the justice system to help with overcrowded jails. But is it working? Last week 47 inmates were sitting in jail waiting to hear what their charges would be, and while they waited, taxpayers paid $36 a person, every day. As of August 10th, eight of the 47 were released, and another three are being held on charges from other counties, saving taxpayers nearly $400 today alone.

David Slayton, Director of the Court Administration, says, "I would classify this order as being very effective." The order asks the District Attorney to file misdemeanor charges within 15 days of the arrest, and felony cases with 30 days to keep the jail population to a minimum. Last week, there were 47 people waiting to be charged. Slayton says, "In the first round, eight of those 47 had been released."

The cases were supposed to go to a detention hearing, but the District Attorney's office resolved each case before the due date. Slayton says, "Now they are formally charged and actions can be taken."

District Attorney Bill Sowder says, "It allows cases to be entered quickly, and that's a good thing," but the DA says quicker isn't always better. "We don't want speed things up too much because we don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water."

Civil liberties was one piece of the order to get people out of jail in a timely manner, but Sowder says inmates see a judge when they're booked, the new hearing just means extra work. "It's not a due process issue because they were in front of a judge."

The first round of 47 did get through quickly and efficiently, and the bottom line, saved taxpayers nearly $400 in one day, and let people out of jail that should not be there.

The DA says the order is not a final solution. Overpopulating the jail is the issue, and even when the new jail is built there will not be enough room to hold all the inmates.

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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 30 days.
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