More than $5 million has gone into remodeling a Bell County jail that remains vacant and may not have a need for inmates for at least two years.
The reason for building a second jail instead of just rehabbing the old one was so the county could generate revenue from outside contracts, but that strategy has clearly (and predictably) backfired.The Central Jail on Central Avenue in Belton has undergone extensive renovation since inmates were transferred to the new Justice Complex in 2009. However, the county had hoped the new-look, $5.7 million facility would bring in inmates from neighboring counties, and more revenue, but those counties are making other plans.
This is becoming repetitive. Just a few years ago counties across the state were seeking to build extra jail space, believing it would become a profit center through which they could compete with the private prison market for contract beds. Now, though, the incarceration bubble is beginning to burst and many of those facilities built on spec are sitting empty, with counties losing money hand over fist.
If it weren't such a catastrophe for taxpayers, I'd say it served them right.
See related Grits posts:
- Will cost cutting doom empty, speculative jail in Waco?
- Speculative Lubbock jail opens with no prisoners to fill it
- Webb County Sheriff's speculative jail scheme ignores risks
- How Cameron County's entrepreneurial jail scheme costs taxpayers
- Do Limestone and McLennan Counties need three jails apiece?