Williamson County jail is crowding, need more correctional officers

Williamson County says its jail population has increased 25% since the beginning of the year. Adding to the problem: they don't have enough correctional officers to keep up.

“Our numbers were about 620 to 630, and that last number I saw was 775,” said Mike Gleason, Assistant Chief Deputy.

The biggest issue is they don't have enough correction officers to handle the incoming loads.

“I have to have one officer per 48 inmates. The county is not in a position right now to give me that much staff,” said Gleason.

Williamson County Sheriff, James Wilson and assistant chief deputy Mike Gleason are asking the commissioner's court to give them more money to hire more employees and handle jail operations. Gleason said the population increase could be blamed on a slow moving system, and defendants not taking plea deals.

“These are the worst of the worst whose cases take a long time to process and don't have the means,” said Gleason.

Drew Gibbs is an attorney and former prosecutor. He said defendants for serious crimes often do not take plea deals, because it could be a long sentence.

“That could mean spending the rest of your life in prison. So a lot of times there's no reason not to go to trial,” said Gibbs. In addition, posting a bond may not be easy for those accused of serious crimes.

“If they can't post a bond they will sit in that jail cell until their trial's reached,” said Gibbs.

Tuesday, the sheriff's office will go back in front of the commissioner's court to continue the conversation, and hopefully discuss hiring more officers.

The jail has a 1,500 bed capacity but there are only enough officers to handle 900.