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San Jacinto News Times - Local News

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Commissioners court discusses county's probation department


By Lark Jarvis

Citizen Gerald Deets expressed concern to the San Jacinto County Commissioners Court on June 27 that housing the county's probation department in the courthouse poses a serious security threat. After affirming that he was speaking of his own volition and not at the request of Judge John Lovett, Deets said, "We need to do something and we need to do it now. The probation department is a magnet for people who are not making wise choices. We're attracting the wrong people into the courthouse." Noting that the courthouse has multiple unsecured entrances, Deets said that he had not seen anyone at the security desk for a long time. Deets pointed out that the probation department receives free rent and amenities at the courthouse, which, he said, would indicate that there should be some money available for security. The court noted that courthouses in neighboring counties have security and house their probation departments off site. All who enter the Polk County Judicial Center must pass through metal detectors and be inspected by security personnel. Deets suggested the possibility of housing the probation department in a modular building across the street from the courthouse. County Clerk Dawn Wright pointed out that in addition to visiting the parole office, currently parolees must come to her office to pay fees. Citing the prevalence of violent incidents nationwide, Deets said to the court, "If there's any blood shed after today, the blood is on your hands." Commissioner Donny Marrs replied to Deets regarding security concerns, "We're trying; you know it doesn't happen overnight." In its closed sessions, the court is researching security solutions. Lovett also read a letter to the court from local lawyer Kathleen E. Matheu expressing concern about decency issues outside the courthouse's second floor courtroom, where law enforcement supervises male defendants' restroom usage. Citing odor and privacy issues, Matheu requested that improvements be made. Other court actions taken included: -renewing the county's mutual aid agreement with the Deep East Texas Council of Government (DETCOG). -allocation of annual matching funds to Burke Center in the amount of $23,511. Burke Center provides mental health services, including emergency services, to San Jacinto County residents. -consolidation of several lots in Waterwood. -acceptance of the county fire marshal's resignation.


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