Presidio County Working to Save Their Jail

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

PRESIDIO COUNTY - A big decision for county officials near the border. Presidio Leaders say the future of the jail is in jeopardy and it's causing a major financial crunch.

"Marfa, the City of Presidio, it affects state troopers, they are all in shock," Presidio County Judge, Jerry Agan, said.

It came as a surprise: the parent company for the jail, Emerald, signed the contract just five months ago. But county officials tell NewsWest 9, the company couldn't make a profit from the $41 inmate-per-day price tag. So Emerald terminated the agreement, and that's left Presidio County in a huge bind.

"I just wish they had been upfront to start with on that," Judge Agan said.

The judge offered for the County to compromise, but Emerald still chose to pull out of the deal creating a headache - not just for county officials, but for the county taxpayers.

"It will affect taxpayers in two ways," Judge Agan said. "We're going to have to start paying for our prisoners. We're going to pay for somebody else to house our prisoners: Brewster County or Culberson County. The other way it's going to affect us is that we have a bond payment of $220,000 a year that has to be paid. We count on jail profits to do that."

NewsWest 9 caught up with the Sheriff, who says, they're doing everything they can to keep the jail open.

"The workers and employees here are concerned about it staying open for the simple reason that they're employees and they've got families to feed," Sheriff Danny Dominguez, said. "They want it to stay open and I'm going to try everything in my power to keep it open."

County Commissioners have called a special meeting for Monday to decide whether to let the County pay to keep it running or to close the doors.

"State and local agencies all communicate through these offices," Sheriff Dominguez said. "The 911 systems through here, so it will be a dramatic impact if we do lose this. We can't afford to lose this."