Breckenridge Texan

County Commissioners approve jail agreement with City of Cisco, continue burn ban
September 25
15:31 2017

On Monday, Stephens County Commissioners approved a contract between the county and the City of Cisco to house inmates in the Stephens County Jail.

 Stephens County Sheriff Will Holt said Cisco does not have a city jail and has historically taken all their prisoners to the Eastland County jail.  However, he said, the Eastland County jail has been regularly full this year with inmates charged with higher levels of crimes and hasn’t been able to take prisoners charged with Class C misdemeanors.

Under the agreement, Holt said, the only inmates who will be housed in the Stephens County Jail from Cisco, will be people arrested for Class C misdemeanors or outstanding Class C misdemeanor warrants, such as traffic warrants or drug paraphernalia. If they are arrested for a Class B misdemeanor or higher they will be taken to the Eastland County jail, he said.

Holt said, to his knowledge, this is the first time Stephens County and the City of Cisco have had such an agreement and it’s too soon to know how many inmates will brought to the county jail.

“Cisco has a new judge, and they’re activating a lot of warrants that haven’t been activated,” he said. “So we’ll probably see a surge in the first few months of this deal where officers over there are arresting people who haven’t paid citations. Then it will probably tapper off after that.”

He said the way the agreement is set up allows for the Sheriff’s Office to temporarily or permanently cease the housing anytime that it would negatively affect the Sheriff’s Office or Stephens County.  

Under the agreement, all transportation of inmates will be handled by Cisco. Holt said, basically it’s just a longer transport when someone is arrested. Instead of just going a few miles to their county jail, they’ll be transported to Stephens County.

He said once they are in custody at the jail, they will be seen by Cisco Municipal Judge Cheryl Howerton within 24 to 48 hours. The prisoners will then either pay their fines or serve out their punishment time at the Stephens County jail.

According to Holt, there are almost always a few beds available to accommodate the extra inmates. He said the Stephens County Jail population has been averaging in the high 20s or low 30s and is designed to hold 48 prisoners in a perfect scenario. Eight of those beds are reserved for use by the City of Breckenridge Police Department.

Stephens County already has jail agreements with Shackelford, Throckmorton and Young counties. He said that right now they don’t have any inmates from Shackelford County and normally they don’t have any from Young County. However, he said, there is one Young County inmate at the Stephens County jail, but he is being housed there because of security reasons and because of his involvement in an ongoing trial in Breckenridge.

Holt said they normally house 12 to 20 inmates a year from Throckmorton County, because like Cisco, they don’t have a jail for housing inmates.

On how much revenue the agreement will generate the county, Holt said it’s too early to tell.

“It will generate some revenue, especially if folks come in and they just stay a few hours,” Holt said. “The agreement is such that if you come in and you stay for just a few hours, you’re still charged for a full day. So that will probably generate some revenue. I don’t know how much, but it will generate some.”

He said a good thing about the contract is that it does not lock the county into any type of obligation that will harm the county or cause more expenses. The county can cancel at anytime.

In addition to generating revenue for the county, Holt said, the agreement also benefits the local community by taking criminals off the street that move between the areas cities and counties, including Stephens County.

“Our county shouldn’t operate in a vacuum, because our criminals certainly don’t,” Holt said. “A lot of our habitual offenders don’t stop at the county line. So if they’re arresting them over there and housing them here, then that’s a good thing, because we’re getting them off the street, preventing theft and future crime.”

Also during their meeting on Monday, commissioners voted to continue the county-wide burn ban.

Cutline, top photo: Entrance to the Stephens County Law Enforcement Center in Breckenridge. The Stephens County Jail is located in the rear of the building. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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