Bond Election Appears Likely for New Jail - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/4/02

Bond Election Appears Likely for New Jail

Lubbock County Commissioners are on the verge of locking in plans to build a new jail. On Wednesday, the Commissioners positioned themselves to call for a November Bond Election. That official announcement will come next Monday.

On Wednesday, the consultants and architects hired by the county made their final recommendations to commissioners. Those consultants say the most cost efficient plan calls for a new $82 million jail to be built outside of downtown Lubbock, and it appears Lubbock County voters will have the final say.

The verdict is in, and according to the consultants Lubbock County hired, if we want to save in the future, we're going to have to spend now. "The current jail as it's occupied right now is a very expensive endeavor to operate. You're spending millions right now on the building, and it's going to get worse," says a representative with Liebert & Associates.

After about a year of research, consultants and architects made their final recommendations to County Commissioners on Wednesday. The functional and architectural plans call for an $82 million facility to be built on a site outside of downtown, most likely near the Lubbock International Airport.

"I think the court is in agreement that the need is there. We've put it off and put it off, and now, we need to deal with it," says County Commissioner James Kitten.

The consensus is Lubbock County's current jail is overcrowded, becoming unsafe and costing taxpayers millions to maintain. In addition, we're losing approximately $3 million a year. $1 million is used to pay Dickens County for housing our overflow inmates. $2 million is lost revenue because we no longer have enough room to keep federal inmates. Plus, as our city grows, it's only natural to need more jail space.

"We're going to spend the money one way or the other. At this point, it's time to address what to do. In my opinion, that's moving to a new facility," says County Commissioner Kenny Maines.

Meanwhile, County Commissioners did approve new contracts Wednesday with four more counties to house our overflow prisoners. Currently, Dickens County is housing 106 of our inmates at a cost of about $5,000 a day. Now, Lynn, Terry, Limestone, and Haskell counties will house overflow inmates as the need becomes a certainty in the near future. Consultants say building a new jail will take four years.

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