(Photo by Rachel Cox)
BELL COUNTY (November 7, 2013) Costly repairs are behind plans to close the Bell County Jail Annex in downtown Belton and move the facility’s more than 100 inmates across the street to the Bell County Central Jail attached to the Sheriff's Department.
The Central Jail housed most of the county’s inmates until the current facility was built at the Bell County Justice Complex off Loop 121.
In 2009 a maintenance upgrade was done on the Central Jail and the facility has been vacant since then.
Bell County Sheriff Eddy Lange said staff has been keeping the building up over the past few years and it's ready to house the inmates from the annex.
The move will mean adding 25-30 new jailers, an addition for which county commissioners approved funding starting in February 2014.
After that training will take place which could take a minimum of one month.
"If we're up and operating by May 1, I will be very pleased," Lange said.
The move will also give jail staff more room to separate 17-year-old inmates from the rest of the jail population.
This is a rule all jails must adhere to following the passing of The Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003.
"We also hope in the future we will be able to offer PREA housing to other counties in our community that don't have the ability we do to house the 17-year-olds," Lange said.