Tom Green County has seen a rise in capital murder cases within the past few years. While we know justice costs time and money, our Senora Scott breaks it down further to explain just how much it truly costs and who's paying for it.
According to the Tom Green County Sheriff's Office, right now, there are at least nine people in jail for either capital murder or attempted capital murder charges; and each trial could cost the county anywhere from one to two million dollars.
"Smaller counties, really one capital murder trial can really be a burden on them,” County Judge Stephen Floyd said.
For Tom Green County, with a total of nine potential capital murder cases, that's anywhere from nine to 18 million dollars.
"We've always had a special trials budget item that we left money in for these types of situations,” Floyd said.
That budget, usually taking only one capital case into consideration. That's been the track record for this area for around a decade but beginning just a couple of years ago - the county has seen a substantial increase in cases.
"I think someone would have to search long and deep back in Texas history to find if any county per capita had that sort of influx into that docket during that period of time,” Floyd said.
Judge Floyd says, counties that ours are often compared to: Midland, Taylor, Victoria, Wichita and Orange, would be in a similar budget crisis.
"They would absolutely be struggling with the same problems,” Floyd said.
Now, to a possible solution. The Tom Green County Commissioners approved the application for a grant through the office of the governor to help ease the tax payer's burden. If approved, that grant could cover up to 1.2 million dollars of the prosecution costs. Regardless it's an issue that won't be going away anytime soon.
"It's going to remain a challenge for the next two or three years,” Floyd said.
The County Auditor's office says they'll send off the application this week.