More jailers, or fewer prisoners.

Those are pretty much the choices for Navarro County officials, according to a recent jail inspection conducted by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Navarro County Sheriff Les Cotten presented the inspection report to county commissioners at their Monday meeting, and said that final recommendations will be forthcoming from the agency.

“We didn’t fail the inspection, but we did get some recommendations we’ll need to address,” Cotten said, adding that state officials could place a “cap” on the number of prisoners that Navarro County can keep based on staffing of jail crew.

“Right now we are four people short (from budgeted levels), and we hope we have four people ready to go to work,” Cotten said.

Cotten said it is possible that the commission could recommend the county add as many as 12 to 15 jailers to meet standards in place for the average population that the jail houses.

“Last year, we averaged a population of about 195 inmates (per day),” Cotten told commissioners. “This year it is close to 198. Last Monday (Nov. 6) we had 235 prisoners. Today (Nov. 13) the number was 208.”

Cotten added that all of the inmate population was “local,” and that the county was not housing any out-of-county inmates for other law enforcement agencies.

“We’re going to have to add some people, or look at housing some of our prisoners in other jails at a cost of $40 or more per day,” Cotten said.

Also mentioned in the jail inspection was needed improvement to the jail’s intercom system.

“This jail is now 18 years old, and it has a lot of equipment that will need to be fixed or replaced,” Cotten said.

Estimates on the repair or replacement of the intercom system will be made this week, and Cotten expects to see the final staffing analysis from the Commission on Jail Standards “within the next 30 days.”

Commissioners voted to accept the report from the sheriff, but took no action concerning any of the staffing or equipment questions.


Bob Belcher may be contacted via e-mail at

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