Houston County unveils new jailhouse

County Judge Lonnie Hunt
County Judge Lonnie Hunt
Sheriff Darrell Bobbitt
Sheriff Darrell Bobbitt

CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - By Whitney Grunder - email

CROCKETT, Texas (KTRE) - Builders, painters and welders are putting final touches on the new Houston County Jail.

Only this "jail" is much more than the county lock-up.

"It's a county jail, law enforcement offices, and justice of the peace courts and that's why we've called it the Houston County Justice Center," County Judge Lonnie Hunt said.

An expensive undertaking. Roughly $13 million dollars, according to Sheriff Darrell Bobbitt.

"The public has to be informed," Bobbitt said. "They have to know what's going on and that's been part of the process."

The sheriff says there's been a growing need for jail space. In years past, Houston County has housed as many as 100 inmates in the current jail which was built for a maximum of 70.

"The jail commission has a certain standard by which we're required to follow," Bobbitt said. "With those population levels going over those numbers, it required us to send inmates to other counties, thereby in essence sending our tax dollars to other counties."

Word of jail violations first came in May 2004.

Then, 3 years later, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards ordered the county to make changes.

"With a lot of studying and input from the citizens and a lot of support from the citizens, in 2008 we made the decision to move forward with constructing this new facility," Hunt said.

With the new jail, the sheriff says overcrowding is a problem being left in the past.

"It was put together in such a way that the infrastructure of this facility will carry on even if they have to add on in the future," Bobbitt said.

Already, dispatchers are handling emergency calls from the new facility.

All that's left, is for inmates to fill the empty cells.

The new jail more than doubles the amount of inmate space.

So much that Houston County may bring in money from housing inmates from other counties.

Before that happens, jail commission inspections are being completed in the coming weeks.

The dedication ceremony for the new Houston County Justice Center will be held Saturday at 11 a.m.  Following the dedication ceremony, an open house will be held  and tours of the facility will be given until 2 p.m.

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