Bell County approves 2 more jail agreements while waiting on expansion construction
BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - Bell County officials have secured extra jail space in Lynn and McLennan counties to use while they await construction to complete for their own jail expansion.
Bell County Judge David Blackburn says up to this point, the cost for these deals have been extremely expensive, spending more than $2 million to house inmates in 7 neighboring counties last year.
“We simply cannot afford to continue to do what we’ve been having to do as a result of the lack of bed space that we have right now,” he said.
“As of this morning, we have 198 inmates placed outside of the county in 7 counties across the state.”
Thankfully, these expensive deals won’t last forever. With construction to add 192 additional beds scheduled to complete early next year.
“Jail expansions don’t happen very often,” Blackburn said.
“I would say once every 20 years or so. It’s not a project that occurs very often so we’re gonna work very hard to do as much as we can with the dollars we have available.”
In the meantime, Blackburn adds they have strict COVID protocols to keep inmates and staff safe, with no inmate being transferred if they have any medical issue.
Moving forward, Blackburn says while the additional beds will help, the county is already looking to expand even further.
“At the end of the day, we’re hopeful we can get almost double what we have right now as far as capacity,” he said.
“We’re trying to build as much capacity as we can, recognizing what we have today, but also recognizing the growth that is occurring in the county.”
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