Jail population down, but likely seasonal
By JOHN DANIEL GARCIA
PRESIDIO COUNTY – Presidio County officials on Tuesday listened to a report by County Judge Paul Hunt illustrating a downward trend in the percentage of federal prisoners at the Presidio County Jail. The population of federal prisoners has dropped to 44 percent, significantly lower than what is needed to keep the jail self-sufficient. To date, the jail has spent around $884,000 and brought in $853,000, leaving a $31,000 deficit.
“I don’t want to close the jail,” said Commissioner Frank “Buddy” Knight, “but I want to live within our means.”
Sheriff Danny Dominguez addressed the court to relieve concerns, stating that the July payment from the feds of $142,000 is pending. After the deficit and the payroll are paid off, the remainder of around $10,000, according to Treasurer Mary Williams, will be used to open an account for the facility.
The dip in federal arrests was connected to the lack of busts on the part of the Border Patrol and other federal agencies due to the season, according to Dominguez. Rod Ponton, 83rd District Attorney elect, pointed out that the Mexican marijuana has yet to be harvested and that officials should expect a spike of marijuana-related arrests in the fall.
“There’s a positive to the negative,” said County Attorney John Fowlkes. “These discussions weren’t had when it [the jail] was collapsing before.”
Fowlkes pointed out that while the figure is troubling, the average percentage of federal prisoners has hovered around 80 percent and that the current low figures is a recent phenomena.
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