New inmate transport van approved

By Kristen Tribe | Published Published Monday, Sept. 25, 2017

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Wise County commissioners Monday approved the purchase of a new inmate transport van as requested by Sheriff Lane Akin.
“We don’t have one with a handicap lift or cages to separate prisoners for various needs, such as male and female, that kind of thing,” he said.
The vehicle, which will cost about $70,000, will be paid for with courthouse security funds.
Akin said he had discussed the purchase with the late District Judge John Fostel, who agreed the van was needed and discussed it with County Auditor Ann McCuiston prior to his death.
“I have since talked to Judge (Melton) Cude, and he agreed, too, that a transport van would be in order,” Akin said. “We had some specs … it’s a 1-ton van. It would be outfitted with the cages and video cameras so you can watch the prisoners and see what they’re doing.
“It would be much more secure and much easier to transport those folks in difficult situations,” he said.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance asked if the S.O. is using a van now.
Akin said they are using a van, but the inside is open. It’s a standard 15-passenger van. The sheriff said he plans to keep the old van, though because there are days his officers transport up to 30 inmates for a docket call.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White asked if there are any companies that would equip the old van with what is needed.
Akin said the current van is old, and equipping it would likely cost more than it’s worth.
County Judge J.D. Clark added he didn’t think the current van could be made ADA compliant.
“Are you having a real problem now?” Lamance asked.
Akin said occasionally there are problems when inmates have handicaps or a violent criminal requires transport.
“You want to make sure you have a higher level of security, and when we transport male and female inmates together we try to keep them separate,” he said. “It’s difficult going back and forth.”

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