Dallas County Gets the OK to Move More Than 900 Beds Back Into Lew Sterrett North Tower

Last month, Dallas County officials -- chief among them, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins -- went down to Austin to ask the Texas Commission on Jail Standards if it'd be OK to add 928 additional beds in the Lew Sterrett North Tower, so-called "variance beds" intended to relieve congestion in the old, rundown Decker Detention Center on Stemmons. Also, Jenkins insisted, giving Sheriff Lupe Valdez those beds would save the county some $1.7 million annually -- since it'd be more efficient to have everyone in the same jail. (The county's been trying to shutter Decker for years.)

The state agreed: Jenkins' office sends word that the TCJS has OK'd moving those beds back in the Sterrett tower. Which means, per the county's release, Valdez can "depopulate the Decker jail within the month and streamline her staff to effectuate the cost savings." The county commissioners will receive a full briefing on today's decision at Tuesday's meeting.

But before then, Jenkins' office sent a release moments ago filled with huzzahs from Valdez and John Wiley Price. The former says, "In his short time in office, Judge Jenkins has already been working on our behalf in Austin to restore these much needed beds" and that "his leadership on this issue was critical to our request and subsequent approval"; the latter, "In order to manage our justice system, it is imperative that we have this facility fully operational." Jenkins -- "still recovering from surgery in Parkland Hospital after yesterday's fall on the ice,'' says the announcement -- is both "elated" and "thrilled."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky