Jail gets high marks from state inspection



Standing in front of the Atascosa County Jail, from left, are Jake Guerra, Chief Deputy Sheriff; Martin Gonzales, Jail Administrator; Sheriff David Soward; Mike Benavidez, Jail Lieutenant and Danny Llamas, Maintenance Officer. LEON ZABAVA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Standing in front of the Atascosa County Jail, from left, are Jake Guerra, Chief Deputy Sheriff; Martin Gonzales, Jail Administrator; Sheriff David Soward; Mike Benavidez, Jail Lieutenant and Danny Llamas, Maintenance Officer. LEON ZABAVA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Annually there is an inspection of all county jails in the state. This is done during an unexpected visit to the jail when the facilities are graded. Being done randomly, this visit can come at any time during the year.

The Atascosa County Jail has passed all inspections during the visits throughout the years.

“Yesterday, January 2, we had an unannounced, routine, inspection from the Texas Jail Commission and it’s an annual inspection they do. They inspect all county jails statewide,” said Sheriff David Soward. “They showed up yesterday and we passed, ‘pretty much with flying colors’.”

Sheriff Soward mentioned that this is the 40th year in a row that the Atascosa County Jail has passed the state inspection. The Sheriff went on to elaborate that this included the past eight years that he has been sheriff.

“We’re very pleased with that. I have to give a lot of credit to my staff, my jail administrator Captain Martin Gonzales, his Jail Lieutenant Mike Benavides, our maintenance crews and several other members of the jail staff who put a lot of effort in keeping our jail going. Keeping things where they’re supposed to be, fixing any problems that might arise, staying on top of things.

“We have to do this and we have to do it on a daily basis, 365 days a year, to make sure that we can pass the inspection when they show up. We never know when they‘re going to show up. We do know that it’s typically towards the end of the year or first of the year. But we do not know when they’re going to show up and they do show up unannounced as they did yesterday (Thursday, January 2). We did very well on the inspection and we’ll be getting our 40th certificate from the state.

“As you know, we recently added 112 cells onto the jail and our capacity now is 250. What that equates to is being that much more to take care of. That many more issues to look after to fix, from buttons to showers to toilets to faucets and ‘you name it.’ The kitchen, the laundry room, everything has got to be ‘up-tosnuff.’ We have to stay on top of it. As I said awhile ago, we have to stay on top of it constantly to keep everything going because it needs to be that way and we never know when the inspection is coming.

“Certainly I would like to, again, thank the County Commissioners’ Court for the funding they provided. It was not only to add onto the jail, but get us on to the future.

“For the adequate staffing that we have and the equipment we need to operate a jail and operate it correctly, without the Commissioners Court’s cooperation it’s not possible. I’ve never had a problem with them providing the adequate funding to do so and I appreciate that.”

Sheriff Soward said that he’s the one, charged by law under the Texas Constitution, to keep the jail going and he’s the keeper of the jail.

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