TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Smith County Sherriff’s Office has a new employee running its jail.
William Phariss is the jail’s new captain. Just before he started his new position, he was the state inspector who found the jail out of compliance two years in a row.
When Phariss accepted the job at the jail, he had a few issues in mind that he wanted to fix; like the wrong-sized serving utensils being used for inmate meals, a nutrition issue.
“It should be an easy fix, they’ve already corrected it, they’re just making sure they’re staying on top of it,” said Phariss. “People are creatures of habit, so if they’re used to using one we’re just getting them out of the habit and making sure they use the right one.”
He also wants to address the recreation requirement — a spot where the Smith County jail has failed it’s yearly inspections the past two years.
He hopes to fix that by putting lights in the outdoor recreation area because jail standards require three hours of recreation each week; only one of them needs to be in the sunlight.
“So, three times we have to offer it, one of them can be in the sunlight, the other two can be in the evening or when its dark outside,” said Phariss. “It allows jail staff to operate more rec during the day, throughout the day, instead of trying to squeeze it in just during daylight hours.”
Phariss said he’s already put in a request to the jail commission to get approval to put in the lights outdoors.
Aside from the specific areas, he says he wants to ensure the jail is above minimum standards on all aspects.
“We want for the general public, the inmates, and inspectors across the state to say you guys have set the bar pretty high and you’re meeting expectations, not only here at the minimum, but above that,” said Phariss. “It’s not just one particular thing, but across the board, we want to work on.”
Phariss said he’s planning on having weekly meetings with the jail staff to ensure they’re staying in constant communication and he plans on speaking to inmates often to ensure their needs are being met.