PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

June 22, 2013

Probation may get new facility

Repurposed warehouse now houses 60 female offenders

BEAUMONT — At a Monday, June 24, meeting, the Jefferson County Commissioners’ Court will consider and possibly authorize Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick to show his support of the Jefferson County Adult Probation Department’s efforts to solicit grant funds for a new facility for female offenders.

Jim Stott, director of the program, began requesting funds for a new residential facility in June 2012. The current facility, located at 145 South 11th Street, Beaumont, was built primarily as a warehouse in 1983. In 1985, the probation department converted it into a livable facility, which has housed female offenders ever since.

“It wasn’t really designed as living quarters, but it’s served its purpose,” Stott said.

Now, with the building growing ever more dilapidated, Stott says the time has come for a new facility. Currently, the facility houses 60 women. Due to a recent change in the type of treatment offered, he anticipates room for between 80 and 100 women will be necessary.

“Before, it was more about getting them stabilized and getting them jobs,” Stott said. “But the state legislature finally come to the realization that you're not going to solve the problem by locking everybody up.”

Stott estimated that 75 to 80 percent of the facility’s residents have some sort of chemical abuse problem. The department will be implementing more substance abuse and criminal thinking treatment into its program.

Branick showed his support for the department in a letter written to Carey Welebob, director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Community Justice Assistance Division (TDCJ-CJAD).

“This program has saved countless lives and significantly contributed to the reduction of criminal activity in Jefferson County and our surrounding areas,” Branick wrote. “We wholeheartedly support the proposal that a new facility is critically needed.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA

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