Update: East Texas county does not have to move inmates - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Update: East Texas county does not have to move inmates


UPDATE: After an emergency meeting with the Upshur County Commissioner's Court, county officials have decided to continue to purchase food for jail inmates using the procedure not up to code.

According to Chief Deputy Bobby Sanders, the sheriff's office is taking steps to get in compliance with the local code.

Chief Deputy Sanders says county auditor Janice Tucker was not present at the meeting. 

Upshur County Sheriff Anthony Betterton said Upshur County Auditor Janice Tucker has issued an order and will no longer pay for food for the jail.

Betterton said it was brought to the attention of a county commissioner that the process for buying food for the inmates did not meet local code. On November 28, the sheriff said Tucker sent a letter to the commissioner's court, county judge, district judge and the district attorney that the county would no long pay for food for the inmates until the jail is in compliance with the local code.

The sheriff said Tucker did not send him the letter, and that he did not learn about the problem until December 3.

"This is Upshur County at its best," Sheriff Betterton said.

The sheriff said there is no way the jail will be in compliance with the local code before they run out of food. Betterton is in the process of working with a couple of East Texas counties about taking the inmates. Betterton said it will be an expensive process and, he said, there is a security issue.

Betterton said the Texas Jail Commission knows about the situation, and it agrees the inmates will have to be moved if the Upshur County jail runs out of food. The sheriff said he is calling for a meeting this afternoon to ask Upshur County to continue to pay for food until the jail meets local code.

"The easiest thing for us to do is work together to solve the problem," Sheriff Betterton said.

To meet the code, the jail must have a bid process for the food on file, although the sheriff said buying food is exempt from the bid process.

The sheriff said he has the money in the budget to continue buying the food, but the auditor is giving him no recourse but to move the inmates. The sheriff said he met with the auditor on the afternoon of December 4, but he said the auditor will not rescind the order.

Sheriff Betterton said moving the inmates would be an unbudgeted expense, and he is not sure how much the other counties would charge to house them.

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