Juvenile detention facility approved for upgrades

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Since it opened in 1990, the Angelina County Juvenile Detention Facility seems to have been plagued with security problems. Over the years, its doors and locks became obsolete.

Aging security measures have allowed breaches in security at the Angelina County Juvenile Detention Facility.

"Our first priority to get security needs met to provide for the safety and security of kids as well as the safety of our community," said Mark Gorman, Chief Juvenile Probation Officer - Angelina Co.

Little has changed since the facility opened almost twenty years ago.

"Since that time, we've had no major renovations or new constructions to the facility," said Gorman.

After comparing the detention center to other facilities, over the past few years, administrators say decades-old security measures are not up to par.

"We've determined that when this facility was built there was a lot of minimum grade or minimum security equipment put in and we need at least medium security equipment in that facility," explained Gorman.

Their research brought them in front of Angelina County Commissioners requesting an endeavor for improvements begin, and there is a lot to do.

"The locks are obsolete - either the superintendent or myself have to pull locks out and have them sent of for repair," said Gorman.

One of the beds can't even be used anymore - over a year ago a young man was able to kick his way through the door because the locks have so much give and the doors can't be replaced.

The commission had just one question. How will the county pay for it? The County Auditor had the answer. Back in 1996 the county earmarked $500,000 for the facility.

"As well with all bond monies or certificate of obligations monies there are earmarks for specific purposes and it only can be used for those purposes," said Eddie Gray, Angelina Co. Auditor.

So the money is waiting and its been growing.

"The balance right now is $609,000," said Gray.

The county commissioners gave the go-ahead...so now that money can be and now the money that was earmarked all those years ago will be used to make the juvenile detention facility a safer place for the future.

"So its just time to get the facility in shape for the next 15 or 20 years."

After the locks and doors are upgraded - the next priority is a new overhead door for their sally port. right now an unrestrained resident could climb up the chain-link gate and possibly escape.

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