Smith County sheriff brings state jail inspector on staff

East Texas News at 6.
Updated: Jun. 4, 2020 at 3:54 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - After the Smith County jail was found non-compliant in recreation requirements two years in a row, and non-compliant in inmate food requirements, this year, Sheriff Larry Smith said he decided it was time for a change.

He’s hiring the state inspector who failed the jail both years.

“We received a letter of noncompliance for the second year in a row, that we’re not proud of, for lack of the right amount of recreation for the inmates, and there’s no excuse for it,” said Smith. “And we have our first noncompliance dealing with inmate meals.”

Smith said the jail has an opening for a captain’s position, but he didn’t promote any lieutenants.

“We’ve had some movement in the management of the jail, in the captain’s position, and having the issue we have with the noncompliance issues, we have five lieutenants in the jail, which would’ve been up for it — had I advertised the captain’s position opening — they would’ve been in line to interview for that,” said Smith. “But because of the deficiency, I was thinking and I had some conversations with Deputy Shoemaker, who is over the jail... He and I had discussions and before the jail inspector left I got this idea that who do you want to put over the jail that knows the minimum jail standards."

Smith said he’s always preached the importance of aiming to meet higher than minimum jail standards, to the jail employees.

“If you strive to go over and above minimum standards, you will always meet minimum standards,” said Smith. “Well, that hasn’t been done, obviously, or we wouldn’t be deficient again.”

Smith sought permission from the Smith County Commissioners to change the position from captain to a civilian.

“I went to commissioners court and got the position changed over from a captain’s position, because he is not a certified peace officer, nor do you have to be to run a jail,” said Smith. “But, I’m looking for somebody who knows the ins and out and working parts of the jail; what’s deficient and what’s not deficient, and to keep the hand on the back of the people, to make sure they get the things done that need to be done, to meet minimum jail standards.”

After the commissioners approved the position change, Smith offered the job to the same inspector who failed the jail the past two years. William Phariss.

“What I decided to do was hit up the jail inspector — who knows jails from as large as Harris County jail to as small as Wood County or Van Zandt County jails — he knows the inner workings and what’s compliant and what’s not compliant,” said Smith. “So, I decided to hit him up and ask him if he’s interested in a job and I’m proud to say after a week or two in conversation with him, he has been hired and will take his job starting the 15th of this month.”

Smith said the jail is working on sending in their plan of correction to the Commission on Jail Standards and hopes to be compliant again within 60 days.

“We’re looking forward to this person taking office and looking forward to working with him to make things right and make things better,” said Smtih. “And again, go over and above the minimum jail standards, that way if we’re deficient in one area we’re still meeting the minimum standards.”

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