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County Plans to Demolish 2 Courts Buildings


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#1 John T Roberts

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 06:49 AM

Tarrant County is planning to demolish two of the old courts buildings, build a new building, and restore the west portico of the Tarrant County Courthouse. Read more about it in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram article: http://www.dfw.com/m...al/10366642.htm

Here are the buildings that are planned to be demolished. The Civil Courts Building:
Posted Image

The Criminal Courts Building:
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#2 seurto

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 08:16 AM

That's interesting. If the new Civil Courts building looks like that one without the tromp'l (thought I knew how to spell that) the facade, that would be good. Just as long as nothing detracts from the old Courthouse. IMHO

#3 ghughes

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 08:49 AM

Posted Image
This is the only thing attractive/worth saving on that ugly beast.

#4 WTx

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 09:39 AM

I don't have a problem with this. I think it will improve the old courthouse. Does anyone have any pics of what the building on the west side of the courthouse looked like before they added the fake looking covering. If it's as beautiful as the other one they are going to demolish then all the better.

#5 gdvanc

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:08 AM

Regarding demolition of the Civil Courts Building: Yippee. The sooner the better. I'm embarrassed for Fort Worth everytime I see it. However, it would be cool if the limestone bas-relief figures (and anything interesting inside) could be salvaged. Anyone have pictures of what it looked like before '88?

Regarding demolition of the Criminal Courts Building: Won't really miss that one, either. Looks like a depressing place to work. I agree with Greg about the basso-rilievo thing, though.

In fact, it would be even better if the whole block the Criminal Courts Building sits on could be sold for development. As I believe redhead once pointed out - what a waste of prime property overlooking the bluff. A site with potentially great views is taken up by a massive parking garage and a building with almost no windows. Or, from another perspective, a very visible section of the skyline is marred by a parking garage and two of downtown's ugliest buildings. Keep the Criminal Justice Building, though. That one's not such an eyesore.

#6 jefffwd

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:32 AM

The time is one hour ahead on the forum. Looks like someone failed to "fall back". ;)

#7 redhead

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 11:13 AM

Yippee---an implosion! That will be cool...let's just hope that the new building has some interest to it, and they show better taste than demonstrated on the ugly parking garage just completed by the county. Why did they not match the colors of the new court building??? The two go together, but do not share a color or material palette in common.

#8 Sam Stone

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 12:59 PM

I'm in total agreement--can't wait for those two eyesores to come down.

#9 lobster

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 04:42 PM

No disrespect to Mr Wyndham but I wish they'd take that equally-as-ugly County Jail bldg down while they're at it .. If they don't, with all the great improvements and neat things going on riverfront-wise, it'll only be a matter of time ;)

#10 TexasPacific52

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Posted 10 December 2004 - 01:37 AM

I've never been in the civil courts building but I've been in the criminal courts buiding several times for hearings. If you think the outside is bad then you should be lucky enough to venture around the inside.

Most of the interior has never been updated and is severely worn out after years of use and abuse. Sheriff Dee Anderson's office area and some of his other departments have updated sections but the courtrooms are bad. Ever tried to sit for hours on an old wooden bench with no cushion. It's not fun.

The basement has an old jail holding facility that is definately ready to be condemmend. The last time I was down there for a parole revocation hearing it was so bad.

Keep in mind that in order to replace both of these buildings, the bond package will have to be passed and it won't be cheap.

John Briggs

#11 John T Roberts

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Posted 10 December 2004 - 08:23 AM

TexasPacific, you have some good points. The article also states that each construction or demolition project will also have to be approved by the Tarrant County Commissioners. There is a chance that things could change.

#12 salvag

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Posted 12 December 2004 - 10:12 AM

Praise the Lord. I will be so happy the day that the Criminal Courts Building is demolished. It is one of the ugliest buildings in downtown IMHO. And if you think it is bad outside, you should see the inside. Hideous. If I had to work in that building I would quit my job. No windows? What in the world were they thinking. NO WINDOWS?????

As far is the Civil Courts Building is concerned, I could care less if they demolish it, blow it up, or drop it in the ocean. I think it was a sad, sad day when whoever in power in Fort Worth decided to change the beautiful court house by adding on that junker. Please demolish it and restore the court house to its original beauty. PLEASE!!!!

#13 fwpcman

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Posted 12 December 2004 - 07:22 PM

Can we all meet down there one Saturday morning with sledge hammers?

#14 Dismuke

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Posted 12 December 2004 - 07:45 PM

I don't have a problem with this.  I think it will improve the old courthouse.  Does anyone have any pics of what the building on the west side of the courthouse looked like before they added the fake looking covering.  If it's as beautiful as the other one they are going to demolish then all the better.

View Post



I don't have photos of it and I wasn't living in Fort Worth yet when the facade was put up. But I remember seeing it on the news - and the building was ghastly.

As to the Criminal Courts Building. well, it looks downright Soviet - not the sort of stuff they put up in the '60s, '70s and '80s but the sort of buildings that they put up back in the days when "Uncle Joe" (as FDR affectionately referred to him) Stalin was alive and systematically ensuring that there would be "fewer but better Russians."
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#15 cjyoung

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Posted 13 December 2004 - 01:57 PM

At what point does the county courthouse get the boot?

#16 360texas

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Posted 14 December 2004 - 05:01 PM

I was looking at the NTCOG's maps and found this. Its only shows the South building face. You might get an idea of how the other 3 faces look.

Dave

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#17 kenkuhl

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Posted 17 December 2004 - 10:27 AM

This is great news! I'm often asked by out-of-towners why there is such an ugly building with a painted facade next to such a beautiful building (the courthouse).

#18 renamerusk

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Posted 17 December 2004 - 12:24 PM

At what point does the county courthouse get the boot?

View Post

This is the point where you are no longer to be taken seriously :no:

"Keep Fort Worth Folksy!"

#19 hipolyte

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Posted 17 December 2004 - 02:49 PM

:no: I've been waiting for years for those buildings to go away. Hopefully the West entrance of the Tarrant County Courthouse is unscathed under there.

#20 Urbndwlr

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Posted 18 December 2004 - 03:02 PM

While I think the Haas tromp l'oiel has been a brilliant solution to that design failure, I think the removal of that building and the resulting restoration of the old Courthouse square will be wonderful. The courthouse squares in each Texas county seat are some of the state's real treasures. That could be a very cool, charming space.

#21 njjeppson

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 07:22 PM

Here are some before and after photos of the trompe l'oiel done by Richard Hass on the Civil Courts Building. His website (Richard Haas) has some other interesting architectural murals (including FW's Chisolm Trail mural).
Before:

Posted Image


After (much better, right?):


Posted Image

#22 JBB

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 08:53 PM

I never thought I would say that the faux wall is better than anything, but, yes it is. What were they thinking when they built that building next to something as beautiful as the Old Courthouse.

#23 John T Roberts

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 10:43 PM

Thanks for posting the original facade of the Civil Courts Building and welcome to the forum.

I don't know what the architect was thinking when he designed it, but the building is a late work by famed Fort Worth Architect Wyatt C. Hedrick.

#24 RD Milhollin

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 10:52 PM

"I don't know what the architect was thinking when he designed it, but the building is a late work by famed Fort Worth Architect Wyatt C. Hedrick"

With a little restoration the Hedrick courts building could have held it's own, just not adjacent to such a gem as the Original Courthouse. I had almost forgotten what a disastrous juxtaposition that had been. Any ideas where the idea for the Bass Hall Angels might have come from, even if subconsciously? :D

#25 redhead

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 05:52 PM

I just learned that the county traded blocks with TCC so that their water element will start across the street from the new building. (north) The county went one block to the east. The TCC feature will provide a really nice transition area from downtown to the bluff and north on Main Street. I also understand that another jail is in the works to the west of the present one. That won't make the Radio Shack folks any too pleased.

#26 Dismuke

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 06:20 PM

I also understand that another jail is in the works to the west of the present one.  That won't make the Radio Shack folks any too pleased.

View Post


Why don't they just put the jails in some "no man's land" - for example the area beyond the railroad tracks near the Purina plant? I doubt the Purina people would care one way or another and the area's lack of easy accessibility makes it difficult to develop and is not something that is really going to have much impact on most of the people who will be using it in the first place. It strikes me as being very foolish to use prime, expensive real estate for such a purpose.
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#27 hipolyte

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 08:37 PM

Very foolish indeed. And yet, in a police state sort of way, the overpowering presense of the Law makes a bold statement.

#28 mosteijn

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Posted 20 February 2005 - 04:52 PM

I also understand that another jail is in the works to the west of the present one.  That won't make the Radio Shack folks any too pleased.

View Post

What happened to the county considering other options? I thought there was a sizeable group of commissioners who wanted to put the jail in (and perhaps move all the jails to) a location that wasn't adjacent to a multimillion dollar corporate headquarters and several high end residential developments...surely such an option would make MUCH more sense. :lol:

#29 hipolyte

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 08:55 AM

surely such an option would make MUCH more sense. :lol:


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#30 ErstwhileDem

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 11:26 AM

Why don't we do a Lew Sterrett style complex near downtown, ie. as close as Sterrett is to the County Courts in Dallas? Where would it go might be a good question, but the idea makes sense, right? Also, could anyone in law enforcement tell us if there are any drawbacks to moving the facility?

#31 JBB

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 11:33 AM

The biggest drawbacks obviously are with the money already spent on current downtown facilities and the cost and time for transporting prisoners to downtown courts from outlying jail facilities. Someone brought up a great idea on here at one point to build newer facilities in suburban areas and house the courts there as well. I'm sure that has its own logistical and financial drawbacks.

#32 lobster

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 08:15 AM

I toured the newer jail in '96 and lemme tell you -- as obscure as it would be, that building really could make for some decent lofts if they could just throw some windows on the bldg :devil: .. If they can make lofts out of old highschools and warehouses, why not a jail? ..

Can't you see the pretentious boutique naming potential?
"The Cells at Trinity Bluff" !
"The Lockup at Uptown" !
or perhaps simply, "The Can"

#33 safly

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 08:58 AM

Funny! Good idead though. I know SA has all their courts and jal centers in downtown area. It made sense then to corral it that way, but with newer precincts and technology, sub-station jails are the answer. You can't expect TC to place a new one all the way in Saginaw? There is a prescence, every cop on the beat will tell you how effective that is. What will become of that run-dow energy plant looking thing. Every time I lok at those "smokeless" stacks I am often reminded of a man in a wheelchair falling into one, I believe fom a James Bond movie.
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#34 ErstwhileDem

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 11:54 AM

I like the idea of..."The Cloisters", or perhaps "The Homes of Heritage Park", or maybe even, just for simplicity's sake, "350", or, to spell it out, "The Residences at 350 W. Belknap". We could get IKEA to furnish the whole thing in a very chic kind of less-is-more layout, and sell the idea at parties. We'll get some girls to go around in skimpy outfits, plus a few bondage types, and sell the thing out before we even have the TIF money to redevelop it! Perfect! Wha-ha-ha-ha!

#35 lobster

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 11:55 AM

There is a prescence, every cop on the beat will tell you how effective that is.

View Post


Along those lines, I was inspired to do a city council presentation not too long ago on prisoner release practices, which at the current time does make the jail's location affect downtown in a negative way:

The prisoner release schedule is a round-the-clock operation. At any hour, when its time for the prisoner to be released, they're literally let out the back door on Belknap (directly across from the Radioshack circle drive).. If the prisoner doesn't live downtown, which it is assumed most of them don't, they can't merely walk home. So what do they do if they don't have someone waiting for them? They wander the downtown streets begging for money so they can maybe catch a cab back to wherever. While on one of my 3am downtown excursions not too long ago I ran into a man who was just released from jail, asking for money. We got into a long conversation about the process -- they literally pop the door open and out you go into 76102 land without any concern for the released prisoner AND for the tenants and visitors to downtown.

They are then forced to wander around and bug people for cash. The obvious solution would be for the police to drive them back to where they picked them up from. Too kind of a gesture for convicts, some might say, but is having newly-released prisoners roaming the streets of downtown aimlessly a good thing ? A pal of mine who works graveyard security at RadioSchacque insists a huge rock hurled through the 1st floor windows at night were the fault of this system. If they have nowhere to go and no way to get back to where they came, the potential for trouble is inherent. I would imagine when someone is released out of the Mansfield facility, they're afforded a ride back to *somewhere* as opposed to being let out on the streets of Mansifled?

#36 renamerusk

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Posted 26 February 2005 - 01:20 AM

....Someone brought up a great idea on here at one point to build newer facilities in suburban areas and house the courts there as well.  I'm sure that has its own logistical and financial drawbacks.

View Post


That suggestion was, I believe, first put forth by myself.

I think that the current jail complex in dt-FW is large enough and should not be expanded any more. The Arlington, NE Tarrant and NW Tarrant sectors (precincts) should each be expected to house itheir share of Tarrant County's court/jail infrastructure.

"Keep Fort Worth Folksy!"

#37 safly

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Posted 26 February 2005 - 04:58 AM

There is a prescence, every cop on the beat will tell you how effective that is.

View Post


Along those lines, I was inspired to do a city council presentation not too long ago on prisoner release practices, which at the current time does make the jail's location affect downtown in a negative way:

The prisoner release schedule is a round-the-clock operation. At any hour, when its time for the prisoner to be released, they're literally let out the back door on Belknap (directly across from the Radioshack circle drive).. If the prisoner doesn't live downtown, which it is assumed most of them don't, they can't merely walk home. So what do they do if they don't have someone waiting for them? They wander the downtown streets begging for money so they can maybe catch a cab back to wherever. While on one of my 3am downtown excursions not too long ago I ran into a man who was just released from jail, asking for money. We got into a long conversation about the process -- they literally pop the door open and out you go into 76102 land without any concern for the released prisoner AND for the tenants and visitors to downtown.

They are then forced to wander around and bug people for cash. The obvious solution would be for the police to drive them back to where they picked them up from. Too kind of a gesture for convicts, some might say, but is having newly-released prisoners roaming the streets of downtown aimlessly a good thing ? A pal of mine who works graveyard security at RadioSchacque insists a huge rock hurled through the 1st floor windows at night were the fault of this system. If they have nowhere to go and no way to get back to where they came, the potential for trouble is inherent. I would imagine when someone is released out of the Mansfield facility, they're afforded a ride back to *somewhere* as opposed to being let out on the streets of Mansifled?

View Post



They can't get a ride because their cars are towed, tough. Make em clean up trash for a ride, empty out cannisters along the ave's. I'm sure we could use the Express Shuttle rides for after hours, subsidized of course, put it in their bonds amount. Radio Shack v. a rock, hmmmmm. I think i've read that somewhere, a churchbook or something? ;)
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#38 John T Roberts

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 06:50 AM

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports today that downtown is high on the list for locations for a new jail building. Two options are listed. One is to build on the site of the Mueller Building, just west of the current Tarrant County Corrections Center. This site is still across the street from RadioShack. The other site would replace the Criminal Courts Building on Belknap.

http://www.dfw.com/m...al/11030122.htm

#39 gdvanc

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 09:12 PM

hm. it will be interesting to follow.

i'd still like to see them sell the relatively valuable d/t (& possibly near-lake-front) property, return it to the tax rolls, and build something in, say, heb or the like (nimby!, of course).

on the tangent started above, i agree that it would be nice to come up with some way to avoid just releasing people in sundance. i have been approached by a releasee. said it was parking tickets; needed a ride to arlington. i declined - the world's too crazy (although the parable of the good samaritan did pop solidly into mind). maybe i should have given him a ride. we had burgers at chili's instead.

#40 normanfd

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 01:06 AM

I still think any new jail should be built in Dallas. :wub:

Seriously now, building new cells next to existing subcourthouses in Arlington, northeast, or elsewhere in the county makes good sense as long as these subcourthouses contain courtrooms to handle local cases.

Downtown property is way too valuable and expensive to force these prices on the taxpayers when other alternatives are available. Having the cells next to outlying courts is a plus.

#41 John T Roberts

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 10:31 AM

Business leaders are now opposing location of new jail in downtown. Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. has sent a letter to the Tarrant County Commissioners to keep plans for a downtown jail out of the proposed bond package.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram article on subject:
http://www.dfw.com/m...ws/11066246.htm

#42 renamerusk

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 12:21 PM

Business leaders are now opposing location of new jail in downtown.  Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. has sent a letter to the Tarrant County Commissioners to keep plans for a downtown jail out of the proposed bond package.


YES...YES..YES...HOORAY FOR DFWI

THE HEART OF THIS CITY SHOULD BE HOME TO LAW ABIDING CITIZENS, VISITORS AND TOURISTS; AND NOT THE DUMPING GROUND FOR THE COUNTY'S OR THE STATE'S INCARCERATES.

I HOPE THAT A LETTER FROM THE COUNCIL IS IN THE MAIL TO THE COMMISSIONERS TO THE SAME EFFECT.

AND BY THE WAY, I HAVE NOTICED STACKS OF BOXES BEING STORED AGAINST THE WINDOWS OF OUR HISTORIC COURTHOUSE'S EAST ELEVATION. NOT ONLY IS THIS UNSIGHTLY; MIGHT THIS ALSO SO BE A FIRE HAZARD? SOMETIMES I FEEL THAT THE COMMISSIONERS HAVE A TIN EAR WHEN IT COMES TO AESTHETIC TASTE.

"KEEP FORT WORTH FOLKSY & FREEZE THE SPREAD OF DOWNTOWN'S INDUSTRIAL JAIL COMPLEX"

#43 mosteijn

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 08:29 AM

And now it's even looking more expensive to build the jail downtown. C'mon sheriff...give up! No one wants another jail downtown, and this could be the factor that gets most commisioners to decide on another location. One thing's for sure, spending all this time bickering about it isn't any better for public safety than having a jail built a bit farther from the courthouse.

http://www.dfw.com/m...al/12064793.htm

Costs of jail plans concern some officials

By Aman Batheja

Star-Telegram Staff Writer


Construction of a new downtown jail would cost more than $82 million, nearly twice as much as the cost of expanding the Green Bay jail northeast of downtown, according to a study released Tuesday.

A third option, building a jail on the site of the county's old facility on Belknap Street, would cost more than $81 million, according to the study.

#44 renamerusk

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 12:28 AM

"Costs of jail plans concern some officials".

Aman Batheja,
Star-Telegram Staff Writer


I actually view this as being "Good news".

Lately, I have been giving this issue more thought after noticing the quiet construction going on at the I35W/820 Green Bay Jail site.

Should the county choose to purchase additional warehouses/land in the Green Bay area for jail expansion, it would in my opinion make a lot more sense than the county adding additional jail space in DTFW and needlessly risking the intensification of a "negative" when so much "positive" is developing in Fort Worth's downtown.

And now report of the increasing costs of a DTFW location is yet another hurdle for the county to reconcile. Good news indeed!

"Keep Fort Worth folksy!"

#45 bdmurphey

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 03:58 PM

I also understand that another jail is in the works to the west of the present one.  That won't make the Radio Shack folks any too pleased.

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Why don't they just put the jails in some "no man's land" - for example the area beyond the railroad tracks near the Purina plant? I doubt the Purina people would care one way or another and the area's lack of easy accessibility makes it difficult to develop and is not something that is really going to have much impact on most of the people who will be using it in the first place. It strikes me as being very foolish to use prime, expensive real estate for such a purpose.

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Working for the Sheriff's Office at one time, gives me a little insight on the matter. It would be nice if the jails were out of sight and out of mind, but for the safety of the citizens, having the jail near the courthouse where prisoners can be transported to court underground and there is no threat of escape is the best option. Anything can happen out on a freeway with a bus full of prisoners who don't want to be in jail, ie wrecks, escape attempts from outside sources. It also is more cost effective. Imagine the daily trips the bus will cost transporting back and forth to downtown from "no mans land". The constitution gives us little room with this. Prisoners have the right to be in the courtroom as long as they behave. The bottom line is, no one wants a jail in their back yard, but they expect the government to have jails...logistically speaking, jails in downtown are a necessary evil. You will find this in every major city in the United States.

#46 bdmurphey

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 04:10 PM

No disrespect to Mr Wyndham but I wish they'd take that equally-as-ugly County Jail bldg down while they're at it .. If they don't, with all the great improvements and neat things going on riverfront-wise, it'll only be a matter of time :smwink:

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When you say county jail building you mean the police department building on the corner, I totally agree. It was good for the early 80's but it's time has passed, but that would mean for the city to build another police headquarters building. The old county jail was actually the county courts building they want to tear down. The top 6 floors were the jail which have already been closed. The top 4 floors of the police building are currently county jail facilities and the city police, with Mansfield contracted for jail services, uses the basement for prisoner intake.

#47 John T Roberts

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 08:47 PM

Welcome to the forum!

#48 bdmurphey

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Posted 15 July 2005 - 06:04 PM

I also understand that another jail is in the works to the west of the present one.  That won't make the Radio Shack folks any too pleased.

View Post


Why don't they just put the jails in some "no man's land" - for example the area beyond the railroad tracks near the Purina plant? I doubt the Purina people would care one way or another and the area's lack of easy accessibility makes it difficult to develop and is not something that is really going to have much impact on most of the people who will be using it in the first place. It strikes me as being very foolish to use prime, expensive real estate for such a purpose.

View Post


Working for the Sheriff's Office at one time, gives me a little insight on the matter. It would be nice if the jails were out of sight and out of mind, but for the safety of the citizens, having the jail near the courthouse where prisoners can be transported to court underground and there is no threat of escape is the best option. Anything can happen out on a freeway with a bus full of prisoners who don't want to be in jail, ie wrecks, escape attempts from outside sources. It also is more cost effective. Imagine the daily trips the bus will cost transporting back and forth to downtown from "no mans land". The constitution gives us little room with this. Prisoners have the right to be in the courtroom as long as they behave. The bottom line is, no one wants a jail in their back yard, but they expect the government to have jails...logistically speaking, jails in downtown are a necessary evil. You will find this in every major city in the United States.

View Post


I forgot to mention more costs that include meals. The state requires feeding the inmates at least 3 squares a day. The present system has a central kitchen downtown which feeds around 6,000 inmates currently being housed in the Tarrant system. Currently food can be transported through the tunnel to the old jail at no cost. The only exception right now is of course Greenbay, which food has to be delivered. Then you run into problems of traffic and getting the food there semi warm. So, to make a long story short. It costs the taxpayers more in feeding inmates if any option is used for satellite jails. Having a kitchen in each jail is no good because you will have more cost in staffing. The courthouse is downtown. Attorneys are downtown. This will never change. And as long as these two things are in place a jail must also be there. As for Radio Shack, they knew what was across the street when they built.

#49 John T Roberts

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 06:05 AM

The Sheriff and County Commissioners are at odds on where the new jail will be located. This week the discussion became more heated. Below is a link to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram article:

http://www.dfw.com/m...al/13121177.htm

#50 JBB

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 09:15 AM

In the end, the commissioners are going to be a lot more scared of the deeper pockets of downtown folks opposing a new jail there than the sheriff threatening to oppose more jail space in outlying areas.




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