The Texas Commission on Jail Standards has employed more than 100 Texans as jail standards inspectors since 1975. Each year an inspector arrives on site at county and city jails to ensure the safety of those incarcerated.
The annual inspections used to be announced, but these days inspectors show up on site unannounced to check records and facilities, assessing construction, equipment, maintenance, operations, custody, care and treatment of inmates, rehabilitations, education and recreation of inmates and more.
When the inspector arrived at Erath County Jail last week, she was here from 8:30 a.m. until well after 5 p.m. According to Sgt. Kenny Philips, the inspector went through the facility checking everything from paperwork to buttons on speakers.
"She was here all day, going through our files and records," Philips said. "I bet she pushed every single button and tested every speaker and toilet and door handle. Those inspectors are trained to be completely thorough so that everyone is protected - the inmates, the jailers and the sheriff and counties."
When the results were returned, Sheriff Tommy Bryant, who credits his staff with the impressive results, said the jail returned no deficiencies, which means the inspector found nothing wrong.
"The only thing the inspector found that needed to be corrected was a situation where we had two extra beds in one of the larger cells left over from before the new jail was complete to accommodate the overflow back then," Bryant said. "When she told us they needed to be removed, Commissioner (Herbert) Brown sent a crew over to unbolt them from the floor and take them out."
Bryant said Brown's help is a perfect example of why the jail has been successful since the addition was added a few years ago.
"Since the new jail opened we've had a lot of success and that's in large part due to the efficiency of the county crews and the jailers working together," Bryant said. "The jail staff is a wonderful group to work with. They work every day like it's an inspection day and that's one of the reasons we've done so well here."
Philips, who oversees the 75-plus inmates and more than 25 employees of the Erath County Jail, agreed.
"We have a great staff here who works hard to take care of the inmates and to ensure everything here is taken the upmost care of," he said.