A Jeffersonian In East Texas

August 16, 2008

It Is Official: Smith County Annual Jail Bond Circus Proposed

Smith County Schools or Jails | School Bond vs. Jail Bond

Vote Yes For The New Smith County Jail Proposal!

Smith Commissioner Fleming | Well Bless Her Heart…

It Is Official: Smith County Annual Jail Bond Circus Proposed

Once again I am running a bit behind on the news, but I thought I would post this piece here from my Jailhouse Revolt Blog
This entry was posted on 7/30/2008 5:19 PM and is filed under Smith County Jail.

This was from my initial reaction to the fact that yes, they were going to try to do it to us again, without doing anything about the root cause. In answer to Ms. Flemming’s comment on the news: Yes, we are under an order to solve the jail overcrowding, but no, it can not be solved by building more jails! Please see the piece on this site about the arrogance of Smith county commissioners.

I love the work going on with the new blog on the block, the What Part of No…Committee. It’s good to have some company! Keep up the good work, and thanks for the links to this blog! Let’s get in touch.

Anyway, I hope this helps:

High School Football, County Fairs, and now a new annual Autumn event in East Texas: The annual Smith county jail bond proposal! Send in the clowns!

The new proposal, is lower in calories than the last, and county officials are hoping that it will be more palatable than the last two, but I still don’t think that county voters can, or will choke it down.

A quote from Judge Kent seems appropriate here:

“Insanity has been defined as “continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results.” Smith County has ignored the needs of the justice system, judges, courts, and citizens and has since 1984 generally addressed jail overcrowding by building more jail bed space. I predict this new jail construction plan will cost millions of dollars, if approved by the voters, and once constructed the new jail will be overcrowded the first day it is opened. Sounds crazy to me.”

I thought it might be time to recap some of the facts:

Facts About the Smith County jail:

  • The Smith county jail is overcrowded. That is one we all agree on. This breaks down when we get to the reasons why. When more people are being incarcerated here per capita than in any modern totalitarian regime, there is a much bigger problem!
  • The reason for overcrowding is that there are people there who don’t belong there. The courts and judges have made attempts to correct at least some of this, but the commissioners court has not been supportive of their efforts.
  • The cost to outsource housing of inmates is $5.00 per day over what it would cost to house them in the Smith county jail. This is a fact that was disguised in the past when we were told that the extra cost was $40.00.
  • The cost of housing them in a new Smith county facility will rise enormously if one is built. The annual increase will be millions!
  • The cost of upkeep for such a facility would be more than the present cost, and new personnel would be needed. Further straining the taxpayers. Again, millions!
  • The majority of residents in Smith county do not want a new jail, as evidenced by the landslide defeat of the last proposal.
  • Residents of Smith county will not vote for a new jail until they see evidence that alternative plans are being put into place wholeheartedly.
  • Several viable options are available for lowering the jail population. One even signed by the Governor. These have been regularly and summarily rejected by the commissioners court, with no valid reasons why.
  • Smith county officials are not taking full advantage of these options. In some cases, they are not trying to use the options at all.
  • Smith county residents do not even want to see a new bond election on this issue, not even a scaled down “jailhouse lite” version, until the other options are given a real chance to work!
  • Smith county residents would like to have input in the process, above the level that has been allowed thus far.

Knowing these facts, Smith county commissioners should halt all efforts to propose a new bond in November, and should use their energies to work on the alternatives. We know however, that they will plow forward with their efforts, and that will waste even more of the taxpayers money and time. Oh, by the way, that’s us!

March 3, 2008

Local Stuff

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajeffersonian @ 3:00 am

The political front in the Smith county area has been very silent lately with the exception of the Sheriffs race, and the county Commissioners seats up for grabs. We haven’t been able to get much information on the candidates. If someone out there has some information on the candidates that they are willing to share, we would be glad to include your two cents worth in the comments section.

If you are a candidate for one of these positions, we would love to have your comments as well! We will publish them uncut, as long as they fall within the WordPress guidelines.

Sometimes it seems like there is some type of veil, or barrier in the area when it comes to online communications. We would love to see that barrier torn down, and get more open communication for all different view points.

Local advertising is picking up a bit, with the websites, www.etexbiz.com and www.tyler.com, two totally opposite styles, maybe things are picking up! We will see.

February 9, 2008

East Texas: Turn Off The Phone And Drive!!!

The city of Tyler, and the county of Smith, well, maybe the entire state of Texas needs to take a look at outlawing the use of cellular devices while driving. It is causing  major traffic problems, causing untold, and unreported numbers of accidents, many of them deadly. Not only should the hand held devices be illegal to use while driving, so should the earphone types. The “borg” looking creatures who use these turn off the driving portions of their brains, and turn into hazardous drivers! If the state, county, and the city do not do something about this, they should profusely apologize to, and reimburse every driver ever convicted of driving while intoxicated!

January 27, 2008

An Open Invitation: Upcoming Elections In East Texas

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We believe that the public is best served by open discourse. It is the spirit on which this country was founded. In that spirit, I would like to invite the public to comment on the upcoming election season, the primaries, and the May election as well. Let us know about what you have on your mind. If you are a local official, we would love to hear from you. If you are a party official, we would love to hear from you. You already know my opinions, now give us yours. You can do that here, or on our sister blog tax.dotrevolt.info

Feel Free to share your thoughts and ideas, avoid profanity, or encouraging illegal activities, and we will publish your comments. Whether you have election related, jail related, local issues, Smith county, city of Tyler, roads, bridges, taxes, or if you just hate insurance companies (yes Mr. Miller, I hate them too, and you are welcome to comment as well) write your thoughts in our comment section, and get the debate started!

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January 16, 2008

Official Arrogance Search Reveals: Smith County Ranks High

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We got a comment on the article Smith County Commissioners: People Despise Arrogance.

This is the comment, with an extra note from the editor:

If you look up “arrogance” in the dictionary, you will not see a photo of the Smith county Commissioners Court, but you probably should!

If you search the term “county commissioner arrogance” on Google, you will find Smith County Commissioners mentioned in the number 1 slot! At least at this time.

I suppose everyone excels at something!

Comment by just this guy — January 15, 2008

Editors Note:

Thanks for the comment! Great insight! We decided to do some more research, on the term “official arrogance,” and guess what? Smith county didn’t get number 1, but they came in at number 6 and number 8 out of a half million searches. Pretty darn impressive!

January 13, 2008

Guilty Until Proven Innocent-You Will Never Be Proven Innocent!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajeffersonian @ 1:15 am
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In Smith county, you are guilty until proven innocent! The trick? You will never be proven innocent! That statement may not be true in every case, but it is a statistical probability! The Houston Chronicle has it right in a story that may be a little outdated, but is still highly relevant: ‘Win at all costs’ is Smith County’s rule, critics claim.

Most local attorneys know this and will try to make the best deal they can for the accused, (or for themselves) and leave it at that. The system has been this way for a long time. The problem is, that it is not only the guilty who go down, it is, in many cases, as with the Kerry Max Cook case, the innocent who wind up behind bars! Well, that seems to be the nature of Smith county justice.

This brief post was a result of a comment from Rustybucket under

Official Arrogance Smith County Commissioners

This is the comment:

“I’m going off track here,but I just want to know why a lawyer would take your money and instead of fighting for your rights,tell you it will be a long time before you go to court,then will not use any of the witnesses that you have are no good.well I got 3 15 min. sessions with this laywer he had to go to the club an play moon you know,and convenenced me to plead guilty because he said go for a bench trial before judge Kent,on the day of trail they served my wife and he said that the judge didnt have an open mine and would throw the book at me.I had a good case if he would have gotten off his rear but I found out this lawyer is a loser,Everbody told me how good he was then I got to looking an everyone I know who he worked for is in prison he got mad at me because I wouldnt take prision over pirole he wouldnt even help me get a license.The morale of this story is if your lawyer goes to clubs and drinks with you dont use him he’s not a friend he’s there making you think he’s good.”

For more on the Cook case:
frontline: the plea: four stories: kerry max cook | PBS

January 12, 2008

Comment By Reader On Child Support Smith County

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajeffersonian @ 9:26 am
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The following comment was found under:
Smith Officials, Wake Up! We are Trying To Help!

I thought it might be lost there, so I decided to add it here.

I like this website. I’ve got to share my story. I was unfortunately one of those targeted for back child support in Smith County. It’s unfortunate because immediately after my ex-wife and I separated, we both left Smith County! This was almost 10 yrs ago, and I had no clue about the jurisdiction. I had to change careers, and there were some periods when I was out of work. This is when I racked up the back child support. It got up over $10k. Meanwhile, my ex-wife remarried within 2-3 months after the divorce was finalized. Finally I got steady work, and it was just at that time that I received a summons. I showed up in court and was placed on probation. This was a little over 3 yrs ago. I was living in Harris County. The judge ordered me to show up in Smith County once a month to pay my probation officer. I was able to go to it a couple of times, but it became prohibitive. I wasn’t making enough money to afford the gas there and back, plus pay the fees to the probation officer and stay on top of child support. Another hearing was scheduled, and I explained it to the judge (Judge Kent, I think, but can’t swear to it…). I also explained that my present wife is disabled and unable to work, and I am responsible for taking care of her, her stepdaughter, and the son than she and I have had together. The judge didn’t care about the distance; she said people came in from Louisiana all the time, so why should I be any different? I felt like I was being punished for living outside the county. That day, I was required to go to my bank and get a cashiers check for about $300 or they would issue a warrant for my arrest. This, on top of the gas, etc. was killing me. I hired an attorney at that time “to keep me out of jail”. I paid $1000 and figured he had resolved things with Smith County. Now I don’t think he did a damn thing. Then my employer had layoffs. They offered to spare me, however, if I would relocate to another state. I did, and spent the past 3 years there. During this time, I have worked down over half of the back child support. Last year, the state increased my support by $50, to be applied to back child support. I had no problem with that. I made good with the company, and applied for a job which would allow me to transfer back to Texas. I got the job and came back at the end of last year. Everything seemed to be going well. I figured the Smith County Probationary stuff had resolved itself, and with my back child support now being below $5000, was excited about getting that monkey off my back. I’ve gotten to see my children again, and was excited about getting to build some kind of relationship with them. Now I’ve started getting calls from the probation unit again! I said I’m caught up; the account is even scheduled to go on positive status on my credit report this year. They say yeah, but there’s an outstanding warrant and if I get stopped in Texas, I’ll spend up to 10 days in jail while they drag me back to Smith County to appear before the judge. They want me to come in on my own recognizance to address the contempt of court charges. Uggh! I can see it now — I go up there, don’t have much to say other than that I have a great job, am working down the back child support, building a relationship with my children, and don’t have the resources to make the trip to a county none of us have lived in for 9 years! I’m pretty sure the judge will throw me in the clink, and I’ll lose everything…. I think about it all the time now……..Thanks, Smith County! /sarcasm I’m sorry for such a long comment, but I’m curious as to whether or not there are others out there with a story similar to my own.

Comment by InThePoorhouse — January 11, 2008

Editors Note:

There are a lot of them! Hopefully your story will encourage more of them to tell theirs. Thanks for telling it.

The Fear Factor

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajeffersonian @ 9:16 am

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Another older post from the older blog:

Posted by 1jeffersonian at 11/13/2007
The Fear Factor
I had a surprising surge in traffic to this blog, so decided to post a little more often than I have in the past. I went looking for a piece that I read right after the last jail vote, so that I could mention it here, and found the source of the increase in traffic. Scott Henson’s Grits for Breakfast, my favorite blog on this subject, had an entry titled:
Voters who rejected county jails looking for better justice policies.

Thanks for the mention Scott! It is a fine work that you do!

The title about sums it up. Why then are people not saying this in public? Well, a lot of folks are afraid of being branded as being too lenient, or too liberal. A lot of folks, who have seen how the system works, are just plain afraid to say anything negative about it. The common denominator is fear!

I have had people who know me, and know that I write this blog, tell me that they read it, but won’t comment publicly because they are afraid that there could be repercussions. I understand that fear. While it is not the same in scope, it nonetheless reminds me of of Solzhenitsyn, and when I think about it, I get that same sinking feeling I got when I first read “The Gulag Archipelago.” The comparisons or only minor ones, but even the communists had to start somewhere!

Unlike those in the injustice system of the former Soviet Union, we have some degree of choice. We have choices to make, that can make a difference, and can keep our system from becoming the human garbage dump that theirs was!

It is my contention that the reason for the failure of the last jail bond, was the same as the failure of the first, and will continue to be a thorn in the side of the county until something is done about it. It is not just the money, it is the fear of the system.

January 11, 2008

Smith Officials, Wake Up! We are Trying To Help!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajeffersonian @ 3:20 am

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Let’s try some logic!

The issue, as it is being presented to the residents of Tyler, and Smith county, is jail overcrowding.

The message from residents of the county is that we do not want to solve the problem by building a huge new jail complex.

Both of these propositions, taken together, constitute a pretty good argument for another option.

Building a smaller, or less expensive jail, is still part of the first proposition, and would satisfy no one. It will not fly.

Building a jail in stages is still a part of the first proposition, it is grounded as well.

So, logically, those propositions are not options. What is left? Only one thing, really, reduce the numbers!

If, indeed, Smith county officials are concerned with jail overcrowding, and that is the reason for the perceived need for a new jail complex, then it is time to look at that option!

January 10, 2008

Smith County Officials Still Don’t Get it!

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Smith County Schools or Jails | School Bond vs. Jail Bond

Vote Yes For The New Smith County Jail Proposal!

Smith Commissioner Fleming | Well Bless Her Heart…

Another local paper article on Smith County Jail overcrowding and officials response to state legislation allowing for the ticketing of some misdemeanors in place of incarceration has come to my attention.

In short, officials just don’t seem to want to alleviate the overcrowding situation, even when handed the solution in writing, and signed by the Governor! The stated issue seems to be that no one has told them how to do it! Surely someone in officialdom, can come up with a method!

If jail overcrowding is the big problem, and it is, then solving a few minor problems to get the solution should be something they are willing to do. Perhaps they are afraid that this might work, and then all the plans for jailzilla would just plain look silly. It might make the public wonder why so much taxpayer money was spent trying to get something that we don’t even need!

Officials in Tyler and Smith county need to wake up! Proposing a new jail plan in May will look ridiculous if the alternatives are not given a chance to work. County commissioners have already ditched the funding for a program put in place by our judges, and now the D.A. has trashed the efforts of our legislators by refusing to even give the new plan a try! If you think the public was hacked off about commissioners giving themselves raises before the last bond fiasco, wait till you see what happens in the next one!

The following is an older post on the same issue. It was regurgitated from the old blog. County officials might do well to ruminate on it.

Posted by ajeffersonian at 12/9/2007
Smith County Officials Still Don’t Get It!
It has once again become apparent that Smith county officials don’t get it! There has been some talk about tweaking the jail proposal for the May 2008 election, possibly offering a “build it in stages” type plan for the voters.

This is becoming a regular event in Smith county, and the poll results get more lopsided each time it is presented, and still the supporters continue down the same road.

What Jailzilla supporters and the media seem to missing, is the fact that it does not matter how far or how fast they travel down this road, or how doggedly and repeatedly they do so, it is still the wrong road. There are a lot of comments from officials. There are a lot of stories quoting the officials, what is lacking is input from the people who actually walk into the voting booths! It smacks of official arrogance!

The people of Smith county will not say yes to any jail until something is done to lower the incarceration rates! The fact that this is not the main issue in the public domain has at least two causes:

1. The media has not made this part of the issue an area of focus.
2. People don’t want to talk about it in public for fear of being branded “liberals” or “bleeding hearts,” or for fear of harassment.

There will have to be some trust built before the public will even be willing to talk about it! Sure, people will talk around the issue, they will talk about ill timed raises, or jail cost, but the real reasons stay hidden under a cloud of distrust.

The big issue then, becomes the issue of trust. Why it is missing, and how to regain it should become the focus. That is the first step. Whether anyone can see this, or will take any positive action on it, is anyones guess.

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