New Hunt County Jail being considered

·2 min read

Jun. 12—The Hunt County Commissioners Court is planning to proceed with building a new jail for the county, and has retained architects to begin working on the proposal.

The discussion about needing a new detention center has been talked about for the past few years, as the current jail has had structural problems since it opened in 2001.

The commissioners met in a lengthy executive session following the close of Tuesday's regular agenda, after which County Judge Bobby Stovall said the future of the facility was again a topic of conversation.

"We discussed the jail situation and talking about moving forward with a jail evaluation and putting a program together to go out for a bond proposal at some point in time to potentially build a new jail," he said.

Stovall then made a motion to retain the services of the firm of Grace Hebert Curtis Architects in Dallas to assist in the process, with he and Martin also being able to evaluate a proposal from a second firm interested in the project.

Stovall's motion was adopted unanimously.

It is not a new discussion, as what to do about the jail has been talked about for years.

Stovall presented the Greenville Noon Rotary Club an update during a meeting in August 2019, noting multiple water leaks are reported with the jail each day, along with doors which refuse to open or close and portions of the floor occasionally rising and falling.

The current jail is rated to house 386 inmates and holds about 300 inmates each day.

County officials met in September 2019 with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards about the future of the jail, which at the time was one of more than a dozen across the state listed as being non-compliant with the state agency.

The issues found at that time were later successfully addressed to the satisfaction of the state, but Stovall said in speaking to the Greenville Kiwanis Club in early 2020 the county had planned to take another 15 years to develop and build another detention center.

"They didn't like that idea," Stovall said. "They said 10 years was all they were going to give us."

An interim solution had been to use the former Hunt County Juvenile Detention Center facility for adult inmates, but the state agency also turned down that proposal, as the facility does not conform to disability standards, among other issues.

The jail inmate intake was allowed to be moved to the former juvenile center office and the county no longer kept federal inmates at the jail, which helped provide the county some time.

Stovall said a new jail is likely to cost about $50 million, if it is built to the specifications of a recently opened facility in Rockwall County.

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