Opposing groups lay out pros and cons of new Smith County jail plan

A group of Smith County officials and citizens say there's another way to ease overcrowding at the county jail - build another one.

But there is now an opposition group who says that voters should not support this new jail plan when it appears on the ballot in November.

Both groups are trying to sway voters not only with their positions, but also with their creative names.

KLTV 7's Danielle Capper lays out their argument.

The groups have formed.

This morning, those who led the opposing group for the last bond election joined Finally! A Jail Plan We Can Afford!

"We've come with a plan that is approximately 40% less than it was last time."

Bobby Curtis says a group spent hours reviewing what was bad about the previous plan and came up with this one.

With a price tag under $60 million, they say the plan is expandable and cost-effective.

"It's a no frills jail," said Curtis. "Using existing county land not having to buy any new land. We've done that by using the existing secure tunnel. Not having to build a new multi-million dollar tunnel. We have also done it by moving visitation out of town."

They say it's a solution to the overcrowding issue, and that's one thing the opposing group, What Part Of No, disagrees with.

"I'm arguing we don't need a jail at this time," said Ken Good.

Good, who was in favor of the last jail bond, says because of alternative programs and potentially a new district court, we should wait.

"All of those things will speed up, going through the treadmill of the court system. Why are we asking the public to spend $59.6 million now when we have all these things coming online. If they work half as well as the ones we have now, we won't need a new jail," said Good.

His group also argues the plan was put together in secret, something the other group dismisses.

"There was nothing secretive about it. The door to the conference room that we worked was open," said Curtis.

He says Senator Eltife, Judge Joel Baker, Commissioner Fleming, and himself went through volumes of information from the failed bond, weeding anything possible out.

"We've got everything that is required and needed to take care of the inmates and nothing extra," said Curtis.

"We only have so much money. We can't ask the voters to pay for everything and the timing could not be worse," counters Ken Good.

With the hard economic times, the opposing group says taxpayers are being forced into a corner.

"We are asking our taxpayers to dig awfully deep when they are having problems paying for gas. So the reality is you are asking people you are telling people to pick you are telling people to pick between schools and jails," said Good.

You can find out more about both groups by clicking the links to the right of this story.

Danielle Capper, reporting. dcapper@kltv.com