There are about 15,000 outstanding Class C warrants in the City of Lufkin. Now, city leaders want those offenders to start paying for their crimes with jail time.
City Manager Paul Parker said, "When we pick somebody up for warrants, they're taken into the jail and given a personal recognizance bond, which basically means they're let go immediately. There's no incentive for anyone to pay their fines. We have several with several thousand dollars worth of fines - very much repeat offenders. Those are the ones we're talking about trying to place in incarceration to enforce the warrants."
The Angelina County jail does not hold Class C offenders arrested by local police departments, DPS troopers, constables or any other agency, but a proposed contract between the City of Lufkin and Angelina County could change that.
The city has made a tentative offer to the sheriff's office of $35 per inmate a day. That would cover the cost of Class C offenders' stay at the county jail, but not everyone is on board with the idea. The county jail is almost always full and some county leaders are concerned about mixing non-violent offenders with violent criminals.
County Judge Joe Berry said, "We had a lawsuit over housing Class C's and that has brought doubt in everybody's mind about housing them, but other counties are doing it and the city has simply requested - in order to have better enforcement of their traffic laws and their city ordinances - that we allow them to have some jail space."
This type of arrangement to hold Class C offenders is common in many counties across the state. It is also a service many Lufkin residents expect their county jails to provide. Especially since more than half of Angelina County property taxes are paid by Lufkin residents.