Jail expansion project

by Christa Lollis

HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - With a capacity of 70 inmates, the Houston County jail has exceeded that number several times in the last few years, taking in as many as 100 inmates at one time.

County Judge Lonnie Hunt explained, "Houston County got its first notice from the state jail commission in 2004 more than 4 years ago telling us that our jail was overcrowded and something needed to be done."

The county has managed to get their jail capacity down but during the last 4 years they've still been working with architects planning to build a jail that would hold up to 148 inmates. Hunt says, "We know its going back up and our only solution is to either build more capacity or to say we'll ship our inmates to another county and let them house them."

Doing that could cost nearly 40 dollars per inmate. While the new jail will cost 13 million dollars, it's far less than transporting the inmates back and forth. "You don't have to just take an inmate out of county and put them there and leave them till they've served their time. They have to come back for court hearings and trials and for any number of reasons an inmate may have to come back to and from the courthouse several times," Hunt told KTRE.

Now they'll continue to do environmental studies, and clearing the property so construction can begin soon.