Jail Overcrowding Concerns Houston County Leaders

During a recent evaluation, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards cited the Houston County Jail for being overpopulated. With more than 80 prisoners currently locked up there, there are now more inmates than beds. Sending them to neighboring county jails would cost close to $50 a day, but it's an option Sheriff Darrel Bobbitt is considering for the safety of inmates and jail staff.

"It becomes a liability issue for the county, and of course when it becomes a liability issue for the county, it becomes a liability issue for the taxpayers," said Sheriff Bobbitt. "It behooves us to try to follow the standards and follow the rules and it's better for everybody."

Houston County commissioners have already interviewed three architects and plan to choose one soon. It'll cost roughly $8 million for an expansion and about $13 million to rebuild the jail in a new location.

County Judge Lonnie Hunt said, "Of course, the taxpayers of Houston County foot the bill, which is why we're going through an extensive process now to really look at all of our options to make sure that whatever we do not only meets our needs right now, but makes sense for the future."

No matter which route Houston County takes to ease overcrowding, there are several different ways to fund the jail project. And since the facility was built with certificates of obligation, a bond election will not be required.