Construction on the new Tom Green County Jail started a few weeks ago. The current jail downtown is deteriorating and creates safety hazards for everyone inside. However, the sheriff's office is facing another problem, and has been for quite some time. Our Senora Scott explains.
"We have an overcrowding problem,” Sheriff Jones said.
Sheriff David Jones is open about this issue in his jail.
"This morning I had 97 inmates in about 6 other counties being housed,” Sheriff Jones said.
Just a few reasons why Tom Green County needs a new jail.
"The infrastructure is going to be there for the 700 but we will actually only be able to house a little over 300 at this facility when it's completed,” Sheriff Jones said.
“This is going to be a smaller facility because the budget just wasn't there?"
“This is a 53 million dollar project at this point,” Sheriff Jones said.
That may sound like a lot of money, and it is, but it wasn't the original figure the county talked about.
The sheriff's office and the county are making do with what they have, with hopes to expand the new jail in the future. Until then...
"You'll be running two jails essentially. Right, the operating costs is going to be quite a bit to operate two facilities,” Sheriff Jones said.
Two facilities means double the staff, corrections officer, medical personnel, and so on. While this may create a few new jobs, the cost of operating will also go up. But something the sheriff will not be doubling;
"We're not gonna spend double money for an inferior product now so what we are building, we're building right,” Sheriff Jones said.
With the two facilities, they'll be able to house around 600 inmates cutting down on some expenditures that come with housing inmates out of county.
"We have almost a hundred out so it's almost $4,000 a day to house out of county. That's not including our cost to transport, our staff that has to be there, that's just a raw figure,” Sheriff Jones said.
Sheriff Jones tells me the construction company has 24 months to complete the project but they are estimating they'll finish a few months early.
The usual life span of a jail is about 30 years. The new Tom Green County Jail will last about 75 years.