On Wednesday, the Commissioners Court will hear a presentation from jail consultants and architects about how much money it will cost the county to add more beds. Commissioners are looking at a price tag of $81 million for some kind of "cure" for the jail overcrowding.
What once started out as a $132 million deal has now gone down in price. But still, Commissioner James Kitten feels $81 million is still a lot of money to spend on the jail. "The biggest thing that goes through my mind is a big expenditure. It's really hard to do, but it's something we're going to have to do," said Kitten on Tuesday.
The county has been battling overcrowding issues for several years. Just three months ago, the county signed a contract agreement with Dickens County to house Lubbock County prisoners. Chief Deputy Paul Scarborough says in 12 months will cost the county roughly $1 million. On top of that, Scarborough also says the county is losing another $2 million from not housing federal criminals. He says there is just no room. "So we're losing that federal revenue estimating $3 to $4 million a year that we are not able to use locally," he said.
Scarborough says that is money the county could keep if the jail had more beds. Right now, the county jail has 795 beds, but it needs about 400 more. Meanwhile, commissioners will also consider contracts to house inmates with Lynn, Terry, Limestone, and Haskell counties. Commissioners say the agreements are for back-up just in case Dickens County reaches full capacity.
Commissioners hope to make a decision about the jail during their regular meeting scheduled for next Monday.