San Marcos, Texas (KXAN) - Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler has been taking an innovative approach to his jail since taking over in late 2010.
The 24-year-old Hays County Jail was in need of maintenance, upkeep and repairs. Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on contractors, he turned to his inmates.
"Saves taxpayers a lot of money cause we have inmate labor do this," said Cutler.
More than $700,000 a year in savings to be exact.
The busy work not only saves the jail money, but creates an opportunity for those behind bars to build on what they might have lost.
"Helps me keep my confidence boosted and moral high," said Michael Johnson, a 26-year-old inmate. "I would rather have a job keeping busy then be in the back sleeping."
The jail is also running low on space.
The US census bureau says an estimated 160,000 people live in Hays County, which is a 38 percent increase since 2000.
In addition to the overall population growth, the jail has 362 full beds, and averages 300 inmates on any given day. The number has the prison operating at 86 percent capacity, 20 percent higher than nearby Travis County.
"We work closely with our courts and district attorneys office to move cases quicker," Cutler said.
The staff is already looking ahead by making plans to expand the jail sometime in the near future.
"We're looking toward tomorrow," Cutler said, "we've got to be ready following the growth that's coming right down that interstate."
In 2009, the Hays County Jail spent more than $300,000 outsourcing inmates to Guadalupe County. The next year, it was $653,000. Another $135,000 was used in 2011, totaling $1.1 million over three years.
Since Cutler took over in 2012, he said his department has stopped sending inmates to other county jails. The money saved goes back into the county's general fund.
Longhorns coach Mack Brown talked with reporters Thursday for the first time since reports surfaced this week that he could be stepping down.
Michael Dell spoke to thousands of customers and partners at the third Dell World conference Thursday at the Austin Convention Center.
UT President Bill Powers may finally learn whether he'll continue to run one of the nation's largest campuses.
Thousands of senior citizens in Central Texas go without holiday gifts. Now a donation drive needs the public's help to collect more and help wrap them.
The judge presiding over the trial to oust District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg ruled Wednesday that she'll stay in office.
Options for high speed Internet in Austin continue to expand. Google Fiber is coming to Austin soon, and now AT&T has announced the city will be the first for its own faster-than-ever Internet speeds.