Gregg County Jail Costs Cut In Half For Tax Payers

A new jail, could help pay for itself. That's if Smith County officials replicate what Gregg County did years ago.   Smith County's jail is overcrowded and sending their inmates to other counties costs tax payers more than $10,000 a day. However, at the meeting last night, discussing the construction of a new jail... there was a suggestion that has some in Smith County looking Northeast to Gregg County.  They have a plan that is actually saving their tax payers money.

"Every ten year the size of the jail doubled," says Sheriff J. B. Smith Smith of Smith County.

An increase that Smith County jail can not handle. However, overcrowding is not a problem in Gregg County. In the early 90's Gregg County began building a new jail with a price tag of 8 million dollars.

"The elected officials in Gregg County had the foresight to build additional beds and once they got those built it has been an ongoing process of leasing those beds and generating revenue.  The 300 beds leased are state inmates and then a few are federal inmates that we are currently holding.  Currently, we are making about $400,000 a year in revenue and that's after all bills are paid," says Sheriff Maxey Cerliano of Gregg County.

So, after more than 10 years, Gregg County has made approximately 4 million dollars off leasing bed space. That has cut the price tag of the new jail in half for tax payers.

"Gregg County has benefited from this, Upshur County has benefited from this, why shouldn't we benefit from this but it's got to take some strong foresight from the voters of this county," says Sheriff J.B. Smith of Smith County.

The plan could help, a little, if the eventual cost of a new Smith County jail is close to the ones defeated in the recent election, which were 83 or 75 million dollars.

Sheriff Cerliano said with the projected Gregg County prison population, he estimates Gregg County has 10 to 12 years of bed space available for the future.

Karolyn Davis, reporting.