by Victor Lopez
HOWARD COUNTY--"The last facility was built in the early 1950's. It got to the point where it was just out dated," Howard County Judge Mark Barr, said.
With a flag that once flew over the state capitol, the new Howard County Jail is one step closer to housing inmates and doing it more safely and efficiently. According to Judge Barr, "If you haven't visited the old jail, you would pick up on it immediately. It's a lot more airy. It's a lot better environment for our jailers to work in. It's a lot safer."
Adan Muñoz, the Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards says, this is a red letter day for Howard County, "They've taken the newest technology and incorportated it into the bond issue, which speaks highly to the people that proposed the plan."
Once all the equipment is installed and operational, inmates will be able to sit at video stations and visit with their friends and loved ones. Judge Barr says this video visitation will enhance the overall security of the facility, "It increases security because you don't have to move inmates around plus, it eliminates contraband coming into the jail."
The 96 bed facility is a hybrid of a linear facility and a pod facility. It's designed to minimize staff and cut down on other, unecessary expenses.
"We don't have to send prisoners outside the county anymore to be housed. Presently we're housing, and it varies from day to day, 20 inmates on the outside of the county being housed, which has cost the county over the years close to $3 million," Barr explained.
Muñoz adds, the county will be able to reap those benefits for years to come, "It's going to be a positive thing for Howard County, probably for the next 15-20 years."