City of Amarillo and Randall County at odds over new jail contract

Randall County Commissioners recently voted to terminate a jail agreement between the county and the City of Amarillo on housing inmates in the future who are arrested and charged with a Class C Misdemeanor.

Randall County Judge Christy Dyer said that Randall County and the city have been negotiating on a new agreement, but that contract has not been finalized.

“The City of Amarillo and Randall County have been in lengthy negotiations with a partnership that we’ve had for quite some time since 2009, where Randall County provides the jail services for the city of Amarillo.

"During the course of the negotiations, we’ve gotten close, but we’re not quite there with a new contract," Dyer said.

According to Dyer the notice sent to the City of Amarillo is that the contract expires in 180 days, not that their partnership will.

Randall County has contracts with several local entities as well as the federal government to house inmates in the Randall County jail.  

“What we do is we have a company that comes in and they set a fair market value for what they look at every expense that is incurred by Randall County, to be able to house an inmate.

“That’s part of the negotiation federal inmate contract, when that daily bed rate is increased, then we have to go back in and renegotiate the terms and conditions of our contracts with our other entities. 

"This is just one of those steps," Dyer said.

Randall County's federal inmate contract also requires that no other entity have a more favorable contract.

Amarillo Mayor Cole Stanley commented about the termination notice and its possible impact on the city. 

“Everything that the judge has asked for we’ve accommodated, and we’ve agreed to.

"Originally, we had a $75 per day rate. They increased that to $95 for their federal contract; we agreed to that. So, in our contract, we moved it from $75 to $95. 

"In a meeting, the judge had said most of your bookings cost more because your Class C misdemeanor inmates are in and out, they don’t stay the night. So, they have a cost of $275 per inmate to book them and process them. We agreed to put that in the contract," Stanley said.

Stanley said that there were also medical costs that the city agreed to cover. He said on average that seven inmates are booked into Randall County daily at a cost of $275. 

“If you do those times 365 days, that's $700,000. Roughly, we agreed to pay $300,000 in addition on top of that because we support our Randall County Sheriff’s Department.

"We value the relationship we have there. So not only have we tried to accommodate everything that she’s asked for, but we’ve also communicated all this," Stanley said.

If an agreement cannot be reached with Randall County, the city has other options if needed. 

“You don’t need a jail in Potter County, a jail in Randall County, an a jail in the city that duplicates that service for the taxpayer. What we need is we need good working relationships where we communicate well. 

"And so, if we’re unable to work this out with Randall County, we’ll take the next step of going to other jails where we have options to enter into a contract with.

“Our number one priority is public safety and the well being of our officers and our citizens. And so it’s important whatever we do from here that remains our priority. 

We cannot have anything that negatively affects our ability to write those class C misdemeanors and make those arrests," Stanley said.

Dyer said she is confident a new jail agreement will be reached with the City of Amarillo.

“Randall County feels completely confident that a new contract will be in place before the expiration of that 180 days.

“We look forward to working with the city of Amarillo and Mayor Stanley on this and many other joint projects," Dyer said.

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