ECTOR COUNTY - Too much crime and too few staff. It's been a problem for many years but Ector County officials have a possible solution in the works, involving a much-needed pay raise.
Ector County Judge Susan Redford said that currently the Ector County Detention Center is not in compliance with jail standards because, "we're over-populated and under staffed. It's critical, we have to have jailers in order to keep our jail open."
If the facility doesn't pass the Texas Commissions jail standards, she said it will cost the county a lot of money because they'd have to send inmates to other places.
"To get employees, to pay a little bit more to get employees is far more prudent than having to pay another county to house our inmates," Redford said.
Additionally, the amount of crime is outweighing the existing manpower to deal with it. The DA said more cases came in by the end of May than in all of 2012.
"We're at a pace of about 2,500 federal cases, which will be a record. It'd be the most cases we've ever filed in the DA's office," Ector County District Attorney, Bobby Bland, said.
The most he's ever seen is 2,100, so that's almost a 20 percent increase.
With all those cases, what tends to happen is that there are too many inmates for each jailer- this is especially true when workers are on vacation or sick, according to the Sheriff. As a result, they fail to meet certain requirements.
"With a shortage of jailers, sometimes the ratio sometimes gets off," Ector County Sheriff, Mark Donaldson, said.
He also added that jailers just don't make enough money to support their families. Some even go to other cities and counties where they're paid more.
Redford told NewsWest 9 she compared government employees salaries and proposed a budget change, keeping in mind how much more expensive is it to live right now in Ector County than it was last year.
Redford said that came out to about nine percent. Under the new budget, county officials would get a five percent increase in pay. And jailers get more on top of that, along the lines of a nine to 12 percent increase.
With the new proposed budget, jailers will make just as much as deputies. That means they could walk right over to the Detention Center and take the jailers duties.
The DA's office is also trying to help alleviate some of the problem; they've hired a new attorney and a secretary.
"Hopefully, that will make cases move more quickly and help the jailers out with some other problems," Bland said.