UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 9:54am
LIMESTONE COUNTY -- After 12 years as Sheriff, Dennis Wilson says a new jail was needed now more than ever.
"Otherwise, we would continue to pay astronomical numbers in housing costs. So just the housing costs alone, this will be a big savings," says Sheriff Wilson.
In the old jail they were running out of room for everything. Including paper work, staffing and inmates, costing them more than $1 million a year to run.
At the old jail, they have 64 beds, but they actually needed twice that. The new jail has 214 beds, leaving them room to lease out the beds to other counties who need the space. They've already signed an agreement to take Freestone County's inmates.
"With the addition of the average number of inmates that they have in inmate housing, we feel like we will reach the 214 bed capacity in a number of months," says Sheriff Wilson.
Since other counties pay more to send inmates to Limestone County, that means the extra money goes into the new jail's pocket to pay for the $14 million facility.
However, not everyone agreed on a new jail. The Commissioner's Court was divided on the decision 3-2 with Commissionsers Beaver and Kirven voting against it.
They wouldn't comment on why they didn't want it, but County Judge Daniel Burkeen says they had no argument.
"I could not see spending more money on an old facility that's still going to cost us over $1 million a year housing inmates," said Judge Burkeen. "and that doesn't take into account the addition transportation costs, moving inmates around, the lost court time every time we have court. We've got to move inmates around between three or four different facilities. It's been a logistical nightmare."
The new jail was built by the same company who built McLennan County's Jack Harwell jail which has struggled to get more inmates from other counties as promised.
However, other commissioners say no matter how you look at the numbers their old jail was totaled and say they expect to pay off this jail in a little over ten years.