Cherokee County Jail back in compliance with state standards

Cherokee County Jail back in compliance with state standards
20-year-old Leo Santiago Chavez convicted. (Source: Raycom images)

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - The Cherokee County Jail is no longer on the Texas Commission on Jail Standards list of non-compliant jails.

“I just want to thank all of my employees for all their hard work in getting us back into compliance,” said Sheriff Brent Dickson. “It’s hard to keep a facility the size of our jail in compliance.”

Dickson, who took over as the new Cherokee County sheriff back in September, said his office implemented several new programs to get the jail back in compliance. He said one of those is a jail maintenance crew that checks on compliance issues every day.

The sheriff said the TCJS official who did the compliance inspection was very pleased with the progress Cherokee County had made with its jail.

An Oct. 15, 2020, inspection report from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards said that the Cherokee County Jail was in violation on five counts.

The first item on the report stated an inmate who was in administrative separation, exceeded the 30-day required reassessment by one to six days.

The second item stated an inmate did not get an initial assessment.

The third item stated jail staff consistently exceeds the 30-90 day required reassessment time frame.

The fourth item lists 15 maintenance issues, such as mold in showers and a cooler door, no water in sinks, an inoperable intercom, lights out, food stored on the floor in the walk-in cooler, dirty floor in the cooler, and laundry bedding stored on the floor.

The fifth item states documentation failed to show that inmates are allowed one hour of supervised recreation at least three days per week.

In a previous story, Dickson explained that he took over as sheriff in September of 2020, and the TCJS inspector came the next month. He added that four Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office employees were disciplined following the inspection.

“I personally walked around with the inspector and I don’t disagree with what he found at all,” Dickson said in the previous story. “We offered to have everything corrected in 30 days but he’s giving us 40. I offered 30 because I’m holding us to a higher standard than the state does.”

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