Sunday, November 18, 2012

Multimillion cost overrun in 'outside' jail care solved

Showers to be fixed downtown, no problem

Six Shooter Junction – A worry knot tied in the tail of the budget for fiscal year 2011-2012, what to do about jail overcrowding suddenly got a very simple solution.

Acting County Judge Scott Felton
Acting McLennan County Judge Scott Felton told the Court he felt the simple problem with the showers could be fixed, “hopefully by next week,” some painting could be done by crews from three of the four road commissioners' precincts, and the chronic problem of overcrowding solved forthwith.

Commissioners appointed Judge Felton to replace former veteran County Judge Jim Lewis. He is a retired banker from the Wells Fargo organization who has been active in economic development projects in both Waco and McLennan County.

It all boils down to what you do with a recurring 96 to 98 prisoners that can't be contained in the Highway 6 County Jail on weekends when the jail fills with prisoners. Then they must be moved to the Jack Harwell Detention Center operated by CEC, Inc. - at a cost of $45.50 per day.

When the year started, the Budget Officer had allocated $1 million to the need; by year's end, the item had exceeded that by 250 percent - at $3.5 million.

The solution seems to be simple, when you listen to Judge Felton's description of the problem. The Staas Plumbing Company need only repair the drains of the showers “so they don't run out in the rest of the building.”

Once that and some painting is complete, he said, it will devolve to incumbent Sheriff Larry Lynch, a lame duck who chose not to run for re-election, to schedule testing of the jail's alarm systems, and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards will reinstate the County's jail operation permit for the downtown location.

Operations were voluntarily suspended so the Sheriff's Department could have more than $1 million in remodeling and refurbishment done, it was learned earlier in the year. Until then, Commissioners often said they believed the permit had been suspended by the Commission. An Assistant Director of that organization said nothing could be further from the truth, that his inspectors would need only conduct a “walk through” for the jail, which is still permitted, though not in active operation.

One need only listen to Judge Felton's description below:
Three months ago, the Court, which was then led by Judge Jim Lewis, speculated that County Buildings Supervisor Sammy Sykora "did not know" what it would take to re-populate the downtown jail. In the same breath, the interlocutor remarked that he thought it would between "between $100,000 and $200,000. A bemused Commissioner Kelly Snell remarked, "He doesn't know, but he does know?"

Judge Lewis then promised to "get him over there this week" to find out. One wonders.

Hear, hear:


  1. Why is this story still being told,why? Is it against the law,then forget about it,the citizens do not care.

  2. I disagree. What are you prepared to do about it? - The Legendary