Polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs has been moved to a West Texas jail that is closer to his group's Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado but allows somewhat fewer opportunities to communicate with the outside world.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints leader was taken from the Reagan County Jail in Big Lake, Texas, to the Schleicher County Jail in Eldorado on April 20, said Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran.
Though he declined to specify why Jeffs was transferred, Doran said the move makes it easier for authorities to bring Jeffs to San Angelo, Texas, for court appearances. Eldorado is about 25 miles closer to San Angelo, and even when Jeffs was housed in Reagan County, he was still transported by Schleicher County sheriff's deputies, Doran said.
Jeffs was extradited from Utah on Nov. 30 to face sexual assault and bigamy charges connected to alleged spiritual marriages to underage girls. The charges stem from a massive raid by Texas authorities on the sect's YFZ Ranch in Eldorado in 2008.
Though the change will put Jeffs, 55, closer to followers at the ranch, it will also limit his communications. In Reagan County, Jeffs had unlimited access to a telephone, said Reagan County Sheriff Jeff Garner.
Jail records show Jeffs made more than 600 phone calls in March alone, though just under 500 of those calls were completed.
He bought a total of 447 phone cards, at a cost of $18 each, to pay for those calls as of March 23, according to jail records. Each long-distance minute costs an extra 60 cents.
The Schleicher County jail is smaller than the 96-inmate facility in Reagan County, and there is only one phone in the common room, Doran said.
It is shared by all inmates; eight people were housed there Wednesday, Doran said. Like Big Lake, phone usage is limited only by the number of phone cards an inmate has purchased, but the telephone in Schleicher County is functional only between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Visiting hours also are shorter in Schleicher County. While inmates in Reagan County can see people during two seven-hour time periods each week, the visiting hours in Eldorado are two two-hour periods a week.