New Smith County Jail Committee

East Texans come forward to help form a new jail proposal that voters will approve. A few weeks ago, two new Smith County Jail proposals failed at the polls. Today, a new committee spent the day addressing the overcrowding problem and the challenges facing the existing jail.   They also got a first-hand look at the jail.

More than a dozen Smith County residents walked through the jail.  Members of the jail committee viewed the holding cells, kitchen area and other parts of the jail.   As part of the tour, the group walked through the tunnel that connects the jail to the courthouse.

"The jail is in pretty bad shape," says Kim Bush, Jail Committee Member.

"I don't think that any disputes that we need a jail, we all agree that we need to do something.  We just disagreed with the proposals that were put together by commissioners either I don't want a remote site and that the downtown site was rushed and not well thought out," says Ken Good, Jail Committee Member.

After the 2 hour tour, one by one... Residents stood up to share their concerns about the last jail bond proposals.

"I think coming up with a plan and with firm numbers then I think this second round will be much more successful," says David Cranford, Jail Committee Member.

"Creating an environment with a master plan one location and that is affordable, it maybe more expensive but it might be something that is more attainable," says Allen Bell, Jail Committee Member.

Many ideas were shared including Judge Kent's rehabilitation proposal, jail size, costs and the list goes on...

"We have talked about stuff here this morning that we have talked about 10 times over again, the same questions, the same concerns and same everything.  I need you to help me build a jail to incarcerate people who hurt other people and if you want to rehabilitation them you do that, but give me the jail space to protect the public from child molesters, rapists, robbers, murders, and burglars," says Sheriff J.B. Smith, Smith County.

So, for now, the committee will go back to the drawing board, giving their input for a new jail that both officials and voters will hopefully agree on. The jail committee is comprised of 47 citizens, lawyers and architects. Their next meeting will be held on Monday night.

Karolyn Davis, reporting.