Tour is one of many officials will make in planning for new facility
Even before two inmates escaped from Hopkins County jail earlier this month, Hopkins County commissioners had been looking at the need for a new jail to replace the current detention facility.
After the escape, problems were identified and quickly resolved. Monday morning members of the commissioners court toured the jail, not only to see the resolved problems but to compare it with other jails they have toured.
“We are looking at the improvements they've made to correct any future problems as far as any inmates getting out,” County Judge Chris Brown said. “We are also looking at the set-up and layout of the jail and comparing it to what we've seen as far as new jails go. We want to make sure everybody understands what we are looking at — the conditions and the overall layout.”
The need for a new county jail is not a new idea. The jail has been under close scrutiny by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards for a number of years due to physical problems with the structure and overcrowding.
Last week, county commissioners met with DRG Architects to begin gathering information on all aspects of a new county jail before formulating an actual plan.
For Brown and commissioners Wade Bartley and Mike O'Dell, this is the first time to see the inside of the county jail, although they have accompanied commissioners Beth Wisenbaker and Danny Evans on tours of a number of area jails to see what other counties have done.
The judge said commissioners want to explore every possibility before taking the next step to make sure their decision will be the right one for the next 30 to 50 years, not just the next three to five years.
Commissioners say they will continue to look at jails around the state to get as much information as possible before proceeding.
“As soon as we've got some facts together, as soon as we've got our options listed out with the pros and cons, we are going to start having meetings with the public to let them know exactly what we are looking at and exactly what our options are” Brown said. “Then, we will proceed further.”
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