Those requests came from the county’s Sheriff’s Department and Detention center. The General Fund is projected at $18,211,458 with $4,714,648 being sought for the sheriff’s department and $3,885,796 for the detention center.
Sheriff Dexter Lunceford and Chief Deputy James Parrish briefed the Budget Committee on the proposed 2019-20 budgets for the sheriff’s department and jail.
Lunceford said the budget continues the department’s strategy of the past few years. He told the committee that the sheriff’s department has three major lines of effort — safe communities; safe schools; and a safe, secure and sanitary jail.
Parrish said the strategy for obtaining a safer community includes serving a backlog of arrest warrants to wanted persons in the county. He said arrests peaked at 1,295 in 2016, Parrish said that as these people were taken off the streets, it was reflected on the county’s crime statistics. He said there has been a 25 percent drop in reported crimes in the county.
Lunceford said another factor is to get drug dealers locked up for life. The key to that is working with federal agencies to have those charged with the sale of drugs tried in federal court, which not only have longer sentences for drug crimes, but also do not grant parole for such sentences.
The sheriff saId there have been 120 Carter Countians convicted in federal court who won’t be breaking into houses and cars for a long time. He said the same strategy is being used to put away predators for long or lifetime sentences.
The key to the effort for safe schools is to have a school resource officer assigned to each of the county’s 15 schools. In fact, there are more school resource officers than there are schools. The supervisor of the SROs is a mobile officer who can move to the school where he or she is needed.
There are several parts to a safe jail, Parrish said. One part is a new X-ray system that defeats the efforts by prisoners to smuggle contraband inside the jail by hiding the illegal material inside their body.
Another factor is to manage jail capacity and obtaining additional revenue by housing federal prisoners, who provide more revenue than housing state prisoners. Right now, the jail houses between 40 and 44 state prisoners.