TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) - Methamphetamine has caused Child Protective Services removal cases to nearly triple in Taylor County over the past four years, and the increase is straining the court system and has begun to drain the County's finances.
During budget hearings that took place in Taylor County Commissioner's court last week, Judge Paul Rotenberry expressed his concerns about family court, stating the "docket is being overwhelmed by CPS cases."
He went on to say that the court is on track to reach 300 CPS emergency removals this year, a far greater number than the 103 removals in 2013, 112 removals in 2014, 225 removals in 2015, and even 259 removals in 2016.
Rotenberry attributes the increase in these emergency removals to methamphetamine use, and Taylor County Sheriff Ricky Bishop furthered this claim, citing the fact that 85% of inmates in the Taylor County Jail have been booked on drug charges.
Rotenberry told KTAB and KRBC he oversees CPS cases for most of his 8 hour work day, leaving little room for family cases not related to CPS. These other cases, such as divorce cases, cannot get a court date until May due to the large number of CPS cases.
The number of cases is so large, in fact, Taylor County's criminal courts are now hearing around 20 CPS cases a week to offset some of the overflow.
Family attorneys in Abilene are also affected by increase in CPS cases, claiming emergency removals make up about 40% of their caseload.
Court appointed attorney fees for the CPS cases have now reached over $1 million and the only solution proposed right now, giving a part time associate judge a full time position, would cost Taylor County $115,000 a year.
Judge Rotenberry did say the State of Texas was considering dedicating a court in Abilene specific to CPS cases, but the Senate shot down the proposal.
KTAB and KRBC will continue to follow the impact methamphetamine has on Taylor County's children and subsequently the court system.
Stick with BigCountryHomepage for the latest information as this story continues to unfold.
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