Nacogdoches Co. Jail brings new meaning to term 'chain gang'

It's not unusual shortly after a new county sheriff takes office to begin sprucing up the county jail and surrounding facilities.

East Texas News saw something a bit more out of the ordinary Wednesday morning.

At the jail, Chief Deputy Stephen Godfrey of the Nacogdoches Sheriff's Office pointed out the "before" look - "rust, deterioration, and mold." Then, he showed the "after" - the renovations being done to the county's largest living quarters.

"This is a waterproof substance that is seamless, meaning that when it sprays, water cannot get back behind," Godfrey said.

The two-part epoxy is similar to a vehicle bed liner. The non-slip covering is going on just about everything that doesn't move.

"It dries within 10 seconds and has a 20 year life expectancy," Godfrey said.

Godfrey said Machinery Rental, a discounted material purchaser, and inmate labor are cutting jail renovation costs in half, to about $21,000.

"We've actually stripped all the paint off the facility," Godfrey said.

The process redefines the jail term "chain gang." The inmates have developed a unique way to remove the paint in between the cell bars. They pull chains back and forth in the hard to reach area. It's noisy, but efficient.

"With their hard work and labor it's greatly reducing our cost," Godfrey said. "There is no way we can do it without the inmate labor. This is considered the new jail that was actually built in the early 90's."

Other than the ongoing renovations there is nothing really new about the facility except the mattresses purchased through inmate commissary money.

"If you use that money appropriately there is plenty of money from the commissary that buys things," Godfrey said.

No spring cleaning is complete without hitting the closets. A paid consultant has been purging the ones at the Nacogdoches County Jail. Kolene Dean, a property and evidence consultant has been focusing on "evidence from cases where the statute of limitations expired decades ago."

The "before" pictures showed evidence crammed into every nook and cranny. The "after" look has everything in its proper place, complete with a bar code.

The Nacogdoches County Jail staff is wanting to get as many repairs as they can completed before the next jail inspection. That is expected to happen sometime in mid to late April.

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