The county jail committee plans to present a recommendation to the board of commissioners next month to expand the county jail by 32 beds (or one pod).
The committee met recently to discuss cost figures and options on doubling the size of the current jail (64 beds) or of doing something less.
“I propose we present a recommendation to the board of commissioners for plans for a 32-bed addition, with upgrades to the current jail structure,” said commissioner Mike Youngblood, who also serves on the jail committee.
Sheriff Kip Thomas presented the committee with three proposed prices from three different companies on constructing a 64-bed addition and providing upgrades (such as touchscreen computer panels) to the current facility.
Prices ranged from approximately $2.5 million to $4.5 million to double the jail’s current size.
In addition, Thomas said his department would need to add a minimum of four employees (maximum of eight) at an estimated base salary cost of $110,000 per year, not including benefits.
At 32 beds, sheriff Thomas estimated he would still need to hire an additional three employees.
Youngblood said he just doesn’t feel the county could afford to take on the cost of doubling the size of the jail at this time with the economy in its current condition.
And commissioner Stanley Thomas, who is also on the jail committee, pointed out that some counties have “overbuilt” their jails, thinking they could house inmates from other counties. “But other counties have built their own bigger jails,” he said.