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El Paso County Jail

12501 Montana Avenue
El Paso, TX 79938
(915) 856-4802

Interview with Ricardo, Lori, Carlos, Kirk, Tyler, Tami, Enrique and Anna

JM: How long was your sentencing for?
Ricardo: Forty days plus court cost and fines to be served if unable to pay.
Lori: 2,000 restitution fees/1 year probation/100 hours community service and had to show good faith effort to complete the full sentence...
Carlos: Ive done up to 10.5 months
Kirk: Originally I got probation but I violated and took a 2 and a half year sentence
Tyler: 5 years but I only did 1 year in half way house and two years on the run
Tami: dwi drug court probation 1 year
Enrique: 160 days time served I had more days than that
Anna: six months for one and 160 days on another

JM: Did you spend time in a holding cell after your sentencing? If so, what was that like? If you didn't where did they they take you instead?
Ricardo: Yes inside of the county jail a large concrete room with a metal door. Several inmates go to court at once. This is a all day event and hot or cold depending on time of year.
Lori: I do not recall. Taken back to the original cell...nothing like solitary or separate. I remember being in a cage before i was transported to the El Paso County jail..I was arrested or kept on the Eastside Jail close to George Dieter...I think!
Carlos: You usually spend time in the tank. Holding cell is for processing
Kirk: Being as El Paso has 2 separate jails you have to wait in the holding cells downtown until the bus comes its very cold and crowded the jail is also plagued by mold
Tyler: I spend time in a holding cell that holds 8 inmates it was pretty bad because we didn't have any checkers or cards to play with, we also didn't have televisions in their like some other holding cells have.
Tami: after sentencing i was not sent to jail. i signed papers for probation and i was on my way. so they had let me go home and i wasnt in jail until i got a probation violation
Enrique: I had bailed out in Feb. My final court was not until June so i was already out of jail by the time i went to court. I did not go back in to custody.
Anna: Well you sit in a holding cell during court while everyone else finishes, then they take you back to the county jail. You remain there untill your sentence is complete or you are transfered to another facility.

Life On The Inside
Just as there are two sides to every story there are also two versions of jail life. One is presented by the sheriff's department running a detention center and the other from actual inmates. The official presentation of the El Paso County Jail states that it was opened in 1997 and can house up to 1,450 inmates.

There are 8 floors with 6 separate blocks per floor to house the inmates. According to the website, "There are a variety of services and programs available to our inmate population to include but not limited to twenty-four hour medical services, adult educational programs such as GED and ESL, Religious Programs, Work Programs, and Commissary."

We're also told that their approach is to minimize confrontation by minimizing inmate movement. This is why each of these housing units remains self contained so that anything the inmates need is brought to them. This makes it all sound very organized and efficient. Actually it is organized, but according to a former inmate it is really the gang hierarchy in the jail which keeps things in order. For instance, the inmate interviewed for this site stated that the gang will expect a "taste" off an inmate's commissary account. This is quickly given up to avoid trouble.

Twice a week inmates are given access to the top floor "sun porch" were they can play basketball or wall ball. There is also a library made available for inmates to check out books or do their own legal research.

Good Behavior Policy
The best position for an inmate to get into is as a trustee. As a trustee they can earn 3 days off for every day served on their sentence. A trustee is also given more privileges like extra food or phone time. To be a trustee also means to stay in the good graces of the staff. Any discipline problems could mean having that status stripped away.

Visitor and Phone Policy
Any visitor who shows up to El Paso County Jail will not only have to present a photo I.D. but they are also subjecting themselves to a search of their belongs. Every visit lasts only 20 minutes.

Visitors are also required to wear appropriate clothing. This basically applies to the women who aren't allowed to see-through blouses, tank tops, halter tops or low-cut neckline. Also, no shorts or short dresses. A phone call will cost around $10 for 20 minutes of conversation.

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