There are concerns if Lubbock County will have enough employees to staff the soon to open new jail. Currently the application process is underway at the sheriff's department. However, if more than 140 new employees are not hired the county could continue to pay millions of dollars to house inmates elsewhere.
Some of the more than 220 Lubbock County Jail Deputes book inmates into the current Lubbock County Jail. However, come spring the new jail is planned to open and the number of jail deputes must increase.
"It is the last summer before and currently with the plan we're moving on we've got a lot of staff to find in a relativity short period of time. So there are some concerns there," Chief Deputy Kelly Rowe said.
The challenge is 142 positions. Those include jail deputes and clerical staff. Rowe says they must have one supervisor for every 48 inmates. To recruit possible employees to work at the new jail the sheriff's office launched a campaign last spring. Signs went up and a website was created. An effort Rowe says appears to be working.
"We're confident that we're not going to have a staffing problem just based on the number of applications but if that happens and we do end up short in some positions then we'll have to look at who we move and who we move first," Rowe said.
Today the plan is to transition the more than 250 inmates currently housed outside Lubbock County into the new jail.
"We need the personal to open the facility to bring the out of county prisoners back in. The $3.5 million we're spending a year, it's going to be our toughest budget year because of the opening," Sheriff David Gutierrez said.
It is a tough year because; more than 140 new positions are estimated to cost more than $5 million dollars. Sheriff Gutierrez says that cost to tax payers will be spread out over a three-year budget period. "Once we can get past this hurdle we can level out and hopefully get back to normalcy," Sheriff Gutierrez said.
However, if the sheriff's department does not have enough qualified people to fill the positions, Rowe says the out of county inmate may not be the first to enter the new jail. A problem Rowe tells us he hopes to avoid.
"We do have a lot of lead time to get these folks through the hiring process and hopefully on the job where we're not having too many concerns like, I said, come about spring of next year," Rowe said.
The first academy for new jail detention officers starts the beginning of September. Click here to lock up a career at the new Lubbock County Jail.