What's in an $82 Million Jail? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/9/02

What's in an $82 Million Jail?

You will get to vote whether you are in favor of a new Lubbock County Jail during the regular election on November 5th. Maybe there are some of you asking, "What's in an $82 million jail and why should I vote for it?"

When you think about the cost of the proposed new Lubbock County Jail, $82 million seems extreme. But according to jail standards, building a secure, safe, and efficient jail doesn't come cheap. "We want to build an efficient direct supervision facility. These cells will have steel walls with solid doors without the bars and technology that's excellent," said Chief Deputy Paul Scarborough.

The biggest change will be the location of the facility. Scarborough says the new jail will sit on 45 acres close to the Lubbock International Airport. Also, the new facility will allow for direct supervision. They currently operate a linear jail. "Here, our detention staff walks up and down. All they see is what's in front of them. So what's going on two cells over, they have no idea. In a direct supervision environment, they have complete control of the environment," Scarborough said.

This big investment comes at a time when county commissioners know it's either act now, or continue to patch the problems. Last year, Lubbock County failed its state jail inspections because of overcrowding. "It probably would have been benefit for Lubbock County to start something like this a number of years ago. But as they were rolling along they were not getting any cap. That's probably what brought this to the forefront more than anything, is the inmate cap that got put on us by the jail commission," said Commissioner Patti Jones.

Currently the old jail can hold up to 795 prisoners. The new jail will have at least 1,200 beds with the possibility to expand to a total of 1,500 beds. If voters elect in favor of the bond, property owners will be charged approximately $7.25 cents per $100 valuation. So a homeowner with a $70,000 property will pay $4.00 a month. If the county were to expand the jail in the downtown area, according to the architects and consultants, it would cost $142 million.

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