Another multi-million dollar jail plan in the works in Tyler - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Another multi-million dollar jail plan in the works in Tyler

By Layron Livingston - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) – Another multi-million dollar jail plan could be going on the May ballot.

A community meeting was held at the Smith County Courthouse to allow public input on the proposed 35 million dollar jail expansion.

County Judge Joel Baker hopes this estimated 35 million dollar plan—the cheapest so far, will help.

"Just like a black cloud hanging over our heads and we're ready to move on," says Baker, "Each time something's been proposed, I've obviously thought, this will solve our problem."

Proposed renovations to the downtown jail would add more than 380 new beds.

Laundry and kitchen facilities would move to the low-risk facility, just north of Tyler. Plus, video visitation, and an in-house infirmary that would save hundreds of thousands in operations costs.

Because the County owes very little money, and it's bond rating is better, Commissioner Warr worked says this latest proposal doesn't just meet needs for space, but safety, too. Something Warr plans to drive home with voters, "Is the safety of the community worth one penny to you? And to the officers who truly put their life on the line?"

"This is a government that has said, ‘can we spend your money?' and the public has no many times. So, if they've got a better plan, let's evaluate it and look at it," said Cynthia Kent.

Kent opposed previous plans; she admits overcrowding is an issue, but isn't sure whether it's a long-term solution, "Maybe it's time for us to look at other programs, other ideas to solve jail overcrowding, without just always building a bigger and better jail."

"I'm trying to look as comprehensive as we can to solve problems for a long amount of time," Warr explained.

The county says it'll all cost one cent. One penny per $100 valued—about $13 a year more on an average tax bill.

Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith says whatever the Commissioners Court, and eventually voters decide--he'll work with.

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