Jail Overcrowding Still A Pressing Issue For Smith County - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/08/02 - Smith County

Jail Overcrowding Still A Pressing Issue For Smith County

A committee organized by Smith County Sheriff J.B smith is brainstorming ways to prevent overcrowding at Smith County jail. A private jail contractor told the committee last week that something needs to happen fast.

Smith County has 755 jail beds, and ideally they need at least 1500 to keep up with future growth, according to Sheriff Smith. Several options the committee is considering include building a new jailhouse, expanding current jail facilities and hiring a private jail contractor to house inmates.

Sheriff Smith says if the issue is not tackled soon, it could end up costing taxpayers more money later on.

"We're going to have to do something," he says. "If we don't the Texas Jail Commission is going to force us, like they've done to other jails to start moving prisoners. If we do that, if we take a 100 prisoners a day and move them into someone else's jail, it's going to cost Smith County $1.4 million a year."

The committee includes a private jail contract as well as newly elected county commissioners, a member of the Smith County Taxpayers Association, and an ER doctor.

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