Criminal behavior will cost county

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

An electrical failure at the Dallas County has revealed two issues &8212; how to keep the lights on and how to keep contraband out.

A problem that sprung up two weeks ago has stretched into a more involved and more expensive process than originally thought.

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Probate Judge Kim Ballard learned on Memorial Day that the jail was completely without power.

That meant an emergency repair totaling $10,000 just to get the system operational. More money is required for updates and to prevent inmates from causing problems.

Ballard said keeping banned items like cigarettes out is one issue, but the electrical problem

is one that appears to be several years old.

Right now, the repairs are temporary patches. The jail needs a new $50,000 control panel and an additional $10,000 to $15,000 for a system that requires no manual operation.

The roadblock is a lack of budget money for jail repairs.

It took about four days to get the system up and running, which posed a risk of danger to both jail personnel and inmates.

Guards walked the pitch-black jail using flashlights, electric doors could not be opened or closed and inmates clogged toilets because there was no way to flush them. The stifling heat also worsened because there was no air conditioning.