TYLER, TX (KLTV) - During an inspection at the beginning of April, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards found the Smith County Jail to be non-compliant with its inmate exercise requirements.
In an inspection report dated April 1-3, it was determined “staff is not offering one hour of supervised physical exercise or physical recreation at least three days per week to the 2nd and 3rd-floor inmates in the Central Jail.” TCJS Inspector William Phariss stated this was determined after reviewing inmate recreation logs.
“If we’re going to be out of compliance somewhere, that’s where I want to be out of compliance, instead of jail checks," said Larry Smith, the Smith County Sheriff. "We don’t want to go in and have an inmate injure himself or someone else; that is critical. This is a no-no that we didn’t do that, but it’s not a critical element, as far as I’m concerned.”
Smith said the lack of exercise time is due to a couple of reasons; the on-going lack of personnel the jail is struggling with and the prioritizing of certain things due to the lack of personnel.
“We’re about 32 people short if we were full-staffed even to have an ideal ratio, so that is why this non-compliance on the exercise part is where it is now," said Smith.
Smith said the reason the non-compliance was assigned to the second and third floors of the old facility is because it is harder to move inmates from that facility than in the newer towers of the jail.
“I’m not saying it’s not a bad thing; we need to improve," said Smith. "But in order to get in compliance, we have to split our time now because what we did was we compromised [exercise] for meeting the 15-minute checks, the ten-minute checks, the suicide watches.”
Smith said his employees are sending him daily reports to ensure the exercise requirements are being met.
Brandon Wood, the executive director of the commission, said the jail has 30 days to submit a corrective plan of action and Smith said he believes the jail should be back in compliance within the next week or two.