Lubbock Breaks Ground on $83 Million County Jail - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/2/05

Lubbock Breaks Ground on $83 Million County Jail

Up until now, Lubbock County's new jail has existed only on paper, that will soon change. Tuesday, August 2nd, the sheriff's office broke ground on the new detention facility that will span across 500 acres.

David Gutierrez has now been Sheriff for seven years, but his fight for the new jail started long before that. "It's going to be a great day." That's how Sheriff Gutierrez started off his day at the groundbreaking ceremony. For almost 30 years, he's been pushing for a new jail.

Gutierrez said, "This is going to go down in the history books."

The current jail was deemed unconstitutional in 1977 and has gone through several renovations. Gutierrez said, "I feel fortunate to have seen the past, present and I can truly see the future."

One thousand inmates are now packed into the Lubbock County jail, that's more than 200 inmates over its limit. The new jail will be one of the largest in the state, housing 1,338 inmates. Original plans called for 1,488 beds, but Gutierrez had to scale back when the price of steel skyrocketed.

Gutierrez said, "It just devastated us when we had to reduce 144 beds. However, we're looking for alternative moneys to come in, federal and perhaps to be able to fill the additional 144."

Right now, officers can only see one inmate at a time. The new jail is designed so officers can see almost everything, making it safer for both inmates and officers.

Lubbock County Sheriff's Office, Captain Kelly Rowe said, "They're constantly aware of their surroundings and what inmates are doing. They'll get a better sense and there's less opportunity for inmates to get into things, get mischievous."

Sheriff Gutierrez said the vision of a new jail wouldn't be possible without public support.

Gutierrez said, "To pass a bond proposition with 63.5% is phenomenal. $83 million to build the new facility across the country it's just not happening."

The building process should take two and a half years.

If they find the money to build additional beds included in the original plans, they'll likely add onto the new jail.

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