LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - After years of planning and building, the new Lubbock County Jail is almost ready to open for operation.
Friday afternoon staff ran through the halls of the new jail practicing how to respond to an injured officer. For now it's just a drill, but soon real inmates will fill the cells.
Deputy Sheriff Rusty Brooks has spent more than a year getting the facility ready. Now, he's training the staff for big changes that will come with the new building's layout. "Learning what the systems can and will do and what our job will be," he said.
The new jail is much bigger than the old facility at 400,000 square feet. Also, instead of cells in a line, inmates in the new jail are separated into pods. Standing on a platform in each pod the jail worker can see every cell. "Here they see everything that's going on. The officers can stop issues before they become problems," said Sheriff Kelley Rowe.
There are also different types of housing so low risk inmates with good behavior are rewarded. "You can take an individual and put them in a cage and they're going to act like an animal. Here they have the opportunity to make choices that you don't have in a caged facility," said Brooks.
In low security pods inmates can walk around more freely. In higher security pods they still have individual cells.
Right now Lubbock County has a high percentage of repeat inmates at nearly 90%. The sheriff thinks the new layout and the ability to implement more educational programs in the more spacious facility will help lower that number. "Getting them the things they need so that when they do get out they've got a chance of some success. They're not re-offending to get right back in here," said Sheriff Rowe.
An official ribbon cutting is scheduled for July 14th, and they hope to move inmates in the week after that.
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