Camp County Commissioners discuss plan for jail expansion

Camp County Commissioners discuss plan for jail expansion
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 10:59 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2023 at 11:38 PM CDT
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PITTSBURG, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas county is doing what it can to upgrade their jail, after decades of inadequacy.

After failed attempts to get voters to fund a new jail, Camp county commissioners met to plan a renovation of a cramped and out of date facility.

Remodeled once in the 1990′s, the 34-bed Camp County Jail has become cramped and obsolete, and is costing the county money.

“We’re currently spending between $115-120,000 annually renting bed space in adjoining counties for inmate housing. Because we don’t have the capacity here,” said Camp county judge A.J. Mason.

This county commissioners workshop meeting was to plan a desperately needed expansion of the existing facility.

“Are we at a critical stage now? Yes we are,” the judge says.

Voters turned down a 2019 bond issue that would have built a new jail.

Four years later the focus is to utilize limited existing space for 52 beds, under the guidance of jail planner Gary Adams.

“We looked at this. The kitchen was in desperate need of help. They didn’t have a padded cell. We’re required by the jail commission to have 10 percent of the population in a small jail like this, be isolation cells. You reach a point where you let everybody out of jail, you start getting repeat offenders, that’s where they are now,” Adams says.

They have some COVID holdover resources for the $3.7 million makeover.

“About $2.4 million in ARPA funding. And our commissioners decided we’re going to apply that towards expanding our jail,” Mason says.

But they’ll have to borrow to make it happen.

“Because it’s going to take about a million, million and a half more than what we have in ARPA funds. Not putting this forward as a best solution or best fix, but this is something we can address some very immediate problems,” says the judge.

The commissioners have not approved bids on the expansion yet, but once that is done work on the jail expansion would begin within 60 days.