Smith County Jail Bond Election Saturday | Events
On May 14, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Smith County registered voters will have an opportunity to vote on the latest bond plan to address public safety issues and alleviate jail overcrowding. Information on the $35 million jail bond is available on the official Smith County Website at www.smith-county.com along with a complete list of polling locations.
Commonly Asked Questions About the May Bond Election
WHAT IS THE ACTUAL COST?: The actual cost of the jail will include the initial $35 million bond and $12.2 million in interest, or a total of $47.2 million, assuming there is no early pay-off. Even at full capacity the cost to staff and operate the proposed facility is expected to decrease for a variety of reasons according to the Smith County Auditor’s office.
WHY DOES SMITH COUNTY NEED MORE JAIL SPACE?: Smith County’s population according to the latest census results is 209,714, an increase of approximately 20 percent over the last ten years. Smith County has paid rent to surrounding counties of more than $17 million since June of 2004 to house inmates. As of May 9, 2011, 86 Smith County inmates were being housed in other counties at a total cost of more than $4,500 per day according to the Smith County Auditor and Smith County Sheriff’s Office.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST PER INMATE NOW?: The FY11 combined per diem rate for housing all inmates is $53.83. With the new jail addition, the calculated per diem rate including principal and interest is estimated to be $46.85, a savings of $6.98 per inmate, per day, as determined by the Smith County Auditor’s office.
WHY NOT TENTS?: The pending legislation that concerns tent jails would not assist in meeting Smith County’s jail needs. First, tents could only be used for low risk inmates. Smith County has adequate space for low risk prisoners and is thus compliant with state jail mandates for this population. It is the medium to high risk inmate housing that is out of compliance, which is for those offenders who commit such crimes as burglary, assault, murder, possession of hard narcotics, etc. Second, the
Texas State Jail Commission would continue to control and regulate jail operations across the state. The current regulations of this organization and existing court rulings would effectively prevent the county from using tents, even if it was approved by the state legislature. This jail proposal also addresses serious issues with safety and efficiencies in the existing facility that would not be addressed with the addition of tents.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THIS BOND PACKAGE?:
• Improved safety/security
• Additional 384 Beds
• Relocation of kitchen/laundry facilities to Low Risk campus
• In-house infirmary
• Separate holding cells for females
• Video visitation unit