Appealing a decision they say creates more problems than those it purports to resolve, the Hays County Commissioners Court in a letter on Thursday asked the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to reconsider its order earlier this month to close the Hays County jail kitchen.
Acting on behalf of the commissioners court, Hays County Judge Elizabeth Sumter submitted the appeal on Nov. 19, a day before the jail commission’s order to shut down the kitchen would have taken effect. Hays County officials have insisted that the jail commission acted outside its authority and without good cause in in issuing the Nov. 5 remedial order. The 43-page appeal submitted this week seeks to give legal backing to that viewpoint, arguing among other things that the Texas Administrative code gives the county one year to correct problems before the commission can issue a remedial order.
“Since the county began addressing the issues raised by the commission within 30 days of the special inspection report, we believe the commission had little or no basis to issue a Remedial Order, which provides that such orders be issued upon the commission’s find that the county “fail[ed] to initiate corrective measures within the time prescribed,” Sumter’s cover letter states.
The appeal goes on to state a new roof, ventilation system and other renovations are scheduled to begin in December and be completed by March 15. Forcing food food preparation for the 362-bed facility into mobile kitchen parked outside does nothing to speed up those repairs, the appeal states.
“Hays County would like to correct each and every noncompliance issue identified by the commission, but, absent some imminent threat to the health and safety of the inmates and county employees, it would like to do so using the balanced schedule it has already established” with the assistance of program manager Broaddus & Associates.
The appeal also references passing grades the kitchen received during health inspections conducted last week by Hays County environmental health inspector Corrie Smith and San Marcos environmental health director Mark Brinkley. Neither inspector found immediate threats caused by structural or sanitation issues.
» Sumter’s cover letter for TCJS appeal [pdf]
» Hays County, San Marcos jail kitchen inspections [pdf]
» September state inspection report [pdf]
» Sheriff’s May 3 ‘Action Plan’ [pdf]
» Sheriff’s ‘Jail Remediation Timeline’ [pdf]
» April state inspection report [pdf]