New Jail Building in Midland Carries a Unique History

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

If you've driven in downtown Midland during the past few days, you may have noticed - what looks like a big tent - sitting next to the Sheriff's office. They're adding a new facility hoping to cut down on the over-crowding. The structure will benefit, not only the Sheriff's Department, but the pockets of Midland County taxpayers.

Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter tells NewsWest 9, the jail has been so packed lately, they're sending inmates into other counties. That's a pretty hefty price-tag for Midland taxpayers. Now they're building a new facility, but this jail addition isn't just cement and fences, it has a very untraditional background.

"It reached the point where in 1 year, we were paying $1 million just to house inmates out of Midland County," Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter said. "That's too much."

Monday over at the jail, workers are building the newest addition to the Midland County Detention Center. For 2 1/2 years, the jail has been over capacity - leaving officials with little option but to send inmates into other counties.

"We're needing space really bad," Sheriff Painter said. "It's costing taxpayers money to house these inmates out, and as soon as this thing gets complete, we're going to be using it real quick."

The cost of construction runs almost a million dollars and adds 72 bunks. The white lining over the top is weather resistant, but will be have to be replaced every 20 years.

"With the number of prisoners we've got and the number we're going over, in the long run, this facility will pay for itself and save taxpayers money," Sheriff Painter said.

It might look like any other construction project, but this building has a history.

"It's different, it's an experience, and it could become a wave of the future," Project Superintendent, Terry Reynolds, said.

Terry's company builds barracks for men and women in the armed forces. He came to this project, straight from Ft. Hood, where he works on training and housing facilities.

"There are several on Ft. Hood and military bases around the country and I think it's either this or something very similar to it that they've got over in Afghanistan or Iraq,  suppose where they're housing people at," Reynolds said.

"We feel very confident this will do well for the taxpayers in Midland County," Sheriff Painter said.

They're also working to install quite a few safety features - including a fence and adding security guards. The new housing will only hold minimum security prisoners. Sheriff Painter told NewsWest 9, the building should be ready by around the first of the year.