Dent CountyNew Jail Proposal - Vote on Propositions 1 and 2 on April 4th
The Dent County Commission is proposing the construction of a new Dent County Jail facility.
Assessing the Need
The current jail, built in 1978, has space for 21 inmates. Since 2007, the inmate population has steadily increased and has averaged 46+ inmates daily in 2016. As a result, the county has had to find, use and pay other county jails to house inmates at a cost of over $100,000 in 2016. In addition, costs for housing inmates outside of Dent County include gas, manpower, and vehicle expense to transport daily for court appearances.
The primary concern with the current jail facility is the overall lack of space, according to Sheriff Bob Wells. Additionally, the current design is inadequate for purposes of monitoring inmate activity, segregating inmates by offense classification and securing and monitoring individual cell doors. There is a persistent mold problem in the jail which is attributed to overcrowding and the inability to regulate HVAC for each individual cell. The current design allows inmates to access lights and fixture wiring, which is a safety hazard. The jail is not handicap accessible and there are no sprinkler systems and venting for smoke evacuation. The sheriff is responsible for the care and safety of jail staff and inmates. The combination of these concerns translate to an unsafe environment for both.
The Solution - A New Facility
Weighing options and using data to calculate the number of beds needed in the new jail for 20 years into the future, the Dent County Commission, Sheriff and Prosecuting Attorney agreed on an 84-bed facility that could be easily expanded to 100-beds. The estimated Project Cost for the 84-bed Jail at $11,015,110. This includes everything: construction, professional fees, furniture, locks, security systems, cameras, door controls, detention equipment, etc., and to the extent funds allow, construction of Law Enforcement Administration space and one new jury compatible, ADA compliant courtroom.
The county officials said this project is long overdue and that the needs of safety, security, and liability protection must be addressed. While they understand concerns about courtroom crowding, security and accessibility, the most urgent need is the jail. Even though the jail is top priority, the ability to add law enforcement (Sheriff and P.D.) and a courtroom, remain future components.
The Dent County Commission has unanimously voted to place two 1/2¢ sales taxes on the April 4 th ballot, to repay leasehold revenue bonds. One of the taxes will “Sunset” in twenty-one years. The remaining 1/2¢ sales tax will be ongoing to fund the increased operating costs of the new jail. Sales tax funding means that nonresident county visitors help pay for the new jail, since over 50% of our sales tax revenue is generated from visitors to our county.
County Officials stated that the two, 1/2¢ sales taxes are dependent upon each other.
Proposition 1, which has a 21 year sunset, is for the construction of a new jail.
Proposition 2 is ongoing to fund the operating cost of the new jail.
See For Yourself
Tours are planned on Tuesdays, between 5:00 – 7:00 PM, for individuals to see the conditions of the Dent County Jail. To schedule a time for a tour contact the Sheriff’s Office, 573-729-3241. All questions can be directed to Commissioners Darrell Skiles, Dennis Purcell, Gary Larson at 573-729-3044 or to Sheriff Bob Wells at 573-729-3241.
For more details about the proposed jail facility ballot initiative, click here to download the printable Dent Voter Info PDF document.