Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jail Standards did not demand $1.1M jail revamp

Renovation 'voluntary'- state honcho

Austin – McLennan County officials have been under the false impression that extensive renovations to the Courthouse Annex Jail were ordered by a state agency.

Texas Commission on Jail Standards Director Adan Munoz told The Legendary that though McLennan County Commissioners seem to believe they were ordered to spend $1.1 million on jail renovations, the closure of the 324-bed lockup was done “voluntarily and not ordered by TCJS.”

In a meeting earlier this week, the Court voted 4 to 1 to spend $41,000 to buy new kitchen equipment to be used when CEC, Inc., the private contractor that operates the facility, finishes certain renovations.

Commissioner Kelly Snell opposed the measure, saying he wants to defer until he finds out when the Sheriff's Office will be ready to move prisoners back in to the newly refurbished facility, which has been renovated with new smoke alarms and locks.

In response to an open records act information request, Mr. Munoz wrote, “In discussing the McLennan County downtown jail with the current inspector, Fred St. Amant, he remembers that this facility failed in 2008 and 2009. The facility was depopulated for renovation in 2010 and is still going through renovation. This was done voluntarily by McLennan County and not ordered by TCJS.

Once the facilty is deemed ready, then it will require that TCJS conduct a walk through for compliance. this is mandatory prior to bringing any inmates back to facility. reminder that both facilities are operated by CEC.”

His assessment jibed with one given by Assistant Director Shannon Herklotz earlier this week. According to both officials, all three lockups in McLennan County are now in compliance, but state law requires a renovated facility to be inspected in a “walk-through” following remodeling.

Mr. Snell and Commissioners Joe Mashek and Lester Gibson suggested that they want assurance that CEC will complete a punch list of repairs prior to the end of the company's contract to operate the downtown jail in June. 

CEC agreed to depopulate the downtown facility of prisoners in 2010 when the county opened its new Jack Harwell Detention Center and transfer the prisoners to the new lockup on Highway 6.


  1. Why did the current administration of the Sheriff's Office waste so much money making unnecessary changes to the downtown jail if the TCJS were not requiring or demanding them? Considering all these changes and such are now going to cost the taxpayers of McLennan County an extra $1.8 million according to the County Budget Officer, I think this was yet another underhanded attmpet at misdirection by the administrators of the Sheriff's Office, namely Lynch and Plemons. They have a long history of misleading voters and the commissioners, and blaming the TCJS. Since then, the jail has failed more inspections then its passed. It cost the taxpayers $49 million to build. It now stand less then a quarter full. That means the average population is under 200. The downtown jail that CEC and the Sheriff's Office moved inmates out of holds over 324. With a 124 beds to spare, why did we need the new private jail? But even CEC said the jail would have to stay at 90% capacity to make a profit. Two years later, we are still waiting for the new jail to hit 50%. Fact was, that the TCJS reccomended against the new jail because crime levels were dropping and it would never stay full. I guess they were right.

    Now fast forward to now. The county spent millions making all these changes and updates to the downtown jail, that they said was too small, so that they could move inmates to it for cheaper then the new jail. Meanwhile, the number of prisoners the Sheriff's Office is sending to the new jail has increased so much, then burned through their annual budget in less then 4 months. They are now borrowing and stealing money left and right to continue to pay their bill to the private company that we are paying to manage our new jail built on our land, with our tax dollars. The Sheriff's Office told the commissioners that all the upgrades were required by TCJS. Now we have the director and assistant director both denying any such claim.

    It would seem that once again we taxpayers are the victims of Lynch and Plemons underhanded dealings and outright lying. No wonder neither was in court. Not even the Sheriff's designated bullet catcher, Paul Wash was there.

    Plemons has run the dirtiest campaign in McLennan county history. According to law buddies, Plemons has committed a felony with his commerical. Lynch has told outlandish lies and half truths on the radio. Meanwhile, Plemons opponent, has stood steadfast in his promise to not run a dirty lowdown campaign. Plemons made the same promise, but he hasn't kept one yet.

    Parnell McNamara has more experience as a lawman. Parnell McNamara has had more training to get his US Peace Officer Certification, that Lynch keeps trying to get people to forget McNamara has despite all the evidence. I guess since Lynch nor Plemons had ever been a true lawman, they don't know about evidence. Parnell McNamara has a business degree from Baylor, which has one of the top business schools in the country. Parnell McNamara has been told by Plemons that there is no money in the budget for a Drug Task Force, which considering every spare dime this year is being spent to cover the Sheriff's blunder, he may be right this year. But, the truth is, the money for the Drug Task Force never left the budget to begin with, it being used for wasteful projects such as a Crisis Response Team that nobody calls, or street training for administrators to make up for them never leaving the office. Sounds to me, they don't know how to manage their own budget. Meanwhile, Parnell McNamara has meat with Commissioners and other county financial planning officers who have verified McNamara's assessment that the money for the Task Force is there.

    We've been lied to and mislead by "Sheriff" Lynch for 12 years. Do we really want to continue to be made fools of by is much less qualified handpicked henchman? It's time we got a real Sheriff in office.

  2. Lynch and the commissioners court are playing politics with the jail so Plemons will get elected and it will be the same old good old boy system again,shame on the commissioners court for playing politics with the taxpayers money.

  3. I think that this election marks the first time in Mclennan County history that regardless of what kind of politics are being played, the cat is out of the bag that both the commisioners, Jim Lewis and the S.O. Administration are exposed that there is a enormous amount of shenanigans going on with the money up there. There has never been a working relationship between the court and the Sheriff's office. The commisioners have always looked at the deputies and the administration as a pain to deal with and tolerate them... because they would love nothing more than to disolve the S.O. and have protecting the citizens and their property farmed out to someone else. Welcome to the real world people,,,they see it as "their" money to do with what they want. Sound familiar? It should because thats what is going on with your Fed govt also. And dont think they arent pi**ed off that so many people are watching now.

  4. I sure wish though two that wrote the comments ,would give it to the trib,oh,but the trib never prints the truth anyway,they could not even make a endorsement.

  5. Maybe they can save money on a new jail doctor. Mr. 250,000 a year, I hear is sitting in jail right now for DWI

  6. The Commissioners had nothing to do with this. This is just one more case where the Sheriff and his Chief Deputy have lied to the people. Right now they are working to destroy the reputation of a true honored lawman. He was honored by the Sheriff himself. Now the Sheriff and his patsy Chief Deputy, who have lied about their own records according to their own documentation, are trying to smear a true honest man so they can keep taking advantage of the taxpayers of McLennan County.

  7. I guess now the Sheriff's Office can save money by making Dr. Wells work off his community service hours as the jail doctor.

  8. I guess when the Lynch and Plemons waste another million, the public just has to bite their lip and take it. Lynch and Plemons have lied to and hid from the county to the tone of almost $3 millions. That's the over $1.8 million they hid in their budget snafu dealing with money being paid to CEC to house our inmates, in our jail, that we paid to build on our property. Kind of like paying a renter to live in your house. On top of that, they lied to Commissioners saying the the Texas Jail Standards Commission required them to make over $1.1 million in upgrades to the downtown, also another jail we own and built on our property to house our inmates that we have to pay someone else for.

    Now Plemons and Lynch have been working hard to continue to lie to the public.

  9. They wasted $3 million dollars?!?!?!? WTH!! They think they deserve to stay in office after wasting that much money all the while complaining there isn't money for more deputies or Drug Task Forces?? Youve got to be kidding me. Someone told me with the $3 million they wasted, that they could have doubled the size of the patrol and investigators. I read in the paper that Plemons wants to add more deputies, but he's already wasted enough money with lies and deceit to have doubled the current amount of deputies. That's not poor adminsitration, that's damn near criminal. My dog could be elected and just sit in a chair and do a better job. This guy shouldn't be running for Sheriff, the Sheriff should be firing him now. But Lync won't fire him, because Plemons is running to protect Lynch. I've heard too many stories of Lynch's illegal activies and using his position to bully people. I wonder how much CEC is really paying him.

    I hope Parnell McNamara's first case after being elected Sheriff is to investigate Lynch, Plemons and other deputies in the departmetn who've been acting illegally.