Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Increased prosecution makes court security “scary”

McLennan Sheriff seeks $42K to cover expense

Waco – A change in criminal court procedures resulted in growing pains for the McLennan County Sheriff's Department.

Newly elected District Abel Reyna and the county's two criminal district judges are indicting and hearing more jury trials for accused offenders - with greater frequency.

Chief Deputy Randy Plemons, a candidate to replace Sheriff Larry Lynch in the elections of 2012, told newsmen Tuesday, August 13, that it's “scary” his department has spent money it doesn't have budgeted to cover an increased need for security at the Courthouse.

In a memo, Captain Paul Wash told the Commissioners' Court, “All courts are processing cases faster. This is driven by having 2 Grand Juries that issue indictments weekly, whereas previously indictments came out every 2 weeks...”

Demand for part time officers to screen visitors to the Courthouse, supervise inmates brought up for trial, and take care of a new visiting courtroom has forced a budget amendment of $42,865.

This is in addition to a budget of $48,000 for part time officers at $30 per hour to help cover the demand.

“We are having more jury trials and more inmates are being brought to the courts daily for either trial or plea agreements. The new visiting courtroom (jury room) is getting much more use than originally anticipated. This increased pace is bringing more people to the courthouse also. Screeners processed over
17,000 people into the courthouse in August. All these issues have increased the workload of courthouse deputies and the part-time officers.”

The Court deferred approval of the budget amendment earlier this month.

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