Vacant Bell County jail may be years away from housing prisoners - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

BELTON

Vacant Bell County jail may be years away from housing prisoners

by Matt Johnson

BELTON - More than $5 million has gone into remodeling a Bell County jail that remains vacant and may not have a need for inmates for at least two years.

The Central Jail on Central Avenue in Belton has undergone extensive renovation since inmates were transferred to the new Justice Complex in 2009.  However, the county had hoped the new-look, $5.7 million facility would bring in inmates from neighboring counties, and more revenue, but those counties are making other plans.

"We've used McLennan County," said Coryell County Judge John Firth.  "We believe that it is probably the most cost-effective for Coryell County."

On Monday, the Bell County Commissioner's Court agreed to purchase nearly $60,000 worth of mattresses for future inmates at the Central Jail.  Upgrades to the kitchen and air ventilation system have been an ongoing project for months. 

Bell County Judge Jon Burrows says the plan was always for the jail to be empty at this point, so that the renovation process would be simpler.

"If you're telling me we need to have built a facility that's full the moment we get it built, then we haven't planned," said Burrows.

According to Burrows, the inmate population in the county grows by 30 people each year.  With approximately 30 spaces left until the jail at the new Justice Complex is at its maximum capacity of 706, the county is expected to house its first prisoners at the Central Jail in 2012.

That is, if the trend continues.  County Jail Administrator Major Bob Patterson tells News Channel 25 the statewide prison population is declining.

Nevertheless, Judge Burrows says the county is merely planning ahead, and that he expects the county to see an influx of inmates because of state budget cuts.

"The state may be releasing prisoners into the system out of the state and penitentiary," said Burrows. "Those people tend to make their way back into the local criminal justice system."

If the county decides to look into leasing cells at its Central Jail, it will have competition.  McLennan County charges roughly $12 less per inmate per day than Bell County does, at $45 and $57 each, respectively.

Judge Firth says, "If they could match or beat the offer or the cost that we're incurring at this point for McLennan county, I'm sure the Commissioner's Court in Coryell County would be more than willing to entertain any offer."

  • NewsMore>>

  • Hundreds of children wait in Border Patrol facility in Texas

    Hundreds of children wait in Border Patrol facility in Texas

    Sunday, June 17 2018 3:40 PM EDT2018-06-17 19:40:11 GMT
    Sunday, June 17 2018 9:42 PM EDT2018-06-18 01:42:38 GMT
    Nearly 2,000 children have been taken from their parents since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the policy. (Source: CNN)Nearly 2,000 children have been taken from their parents since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the policy. (Source: CNN)

    Hundreds of children are waiting away from their parents inside a Border Patrol holding facility in South Texas, with groups of 20 or more children to a single cage.

    More >>

    Hundreds of children are waiting away from their parents inside a Border Patrol holding facility in South Texas, with groups of 20 or more children to a single cage.

    More >>
  • Tough course or easy, Brooks Koepka repeats as US Open champ

    Tough course or easy, Brooks Koepka repeats as US Open champ

    Sunday, June 17 2018 8:59 AM EDT2018-06-17 12:59:32 GMT
    Sunday, June 17 2018 9:41 PM EDT2018-06-18 01:41:36 GMT
    (AP Photo/Julio Cortez). Dustin Johnson misses a putt on the 18th green during the third round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Saturday, June 16, 2018, in Southampton, N.Y.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez). Dustin Johnson misses a putt on the 18th green during the third round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Saturday, June 16, 2018, in Southampton, N.Y.
    The toughest test at US Open is getting Shinnecock Hills in the right condition for a memorable final round.More >>
    The toughest test at US Open is getting Shinnecock Hills in the right condition for a memorable final round.More >>
  • Trump adviser says 'nobody likes' family separation policy

    Trump adviser says 'nobody likes' family separation policy

    Sunday, June 17 2018 10:49 AM EDT2018-06-17 14:49:42 GMT
    Sunday, June 17 2018 9:41 PM EDT2018-06-18 01:41:12 GMT
    (Butch Comegys/The Times-Tribune via AP). U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration policy and law enforcement actions at Lackawanna College in downtown Scranton, Pa., on Friday, June 15, 2018.(Butch Comegys/The Times-Tribune via AP). U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration policy and law enforcement actions at Lackawanna College in downtown Scranton, Pa., on Friday, June 15, 2018.

    A White House adviser is distancing the Trump administration from responsibility for a jump in the number of migrant children being separated from their parents by authorities at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    More >>

    A White House adviser is distancing the Trump administration from responsibility for a jump in the number of migrant children being separated from their parents by authorities at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly