Henry County Commissioners explore the possibility of a new jail

Published: Dec. 10, 2019 at 6:16 PM CST
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Henry County could soon have a new jail, if commissioners have it their way.

The current jail has been around for 8 decades, and is in desperate need of repair.

County leaders believe a brand new facility could be the best use of money.

The Henry County jail is bleeding money.

"Almost daily I get a report from the jailer and the sheriff's office about different problems every day,” said Henry County Probate Judge, David Money.

“Most of them are structural. Whether it be the walls, the floors, the sewer stopping up, electrical wiring, plumbing. It's really become kind of a money pit," Money explained.

The problems are costing the county tens of thousands of dollars to fix.

Judge Money is looking for a proverbial tourniquet.

"If the choices are, and there are only two choices: stay with what we have, spend the money that we have to do to keep it safe, to keep it compliant with laws, or looking at what we need to build, then obviously, I'm going to be for the latter," Money said.

Sheriff Will Maddox agrees saying the 80 year old jail is long overdue for an update, and the current problems will only get worse.

"Before you start putting a lot of money into a building that's not going to be adequate in the future, I think we need to be looking toward building a new jail before it's mandated that we have to," Sheriff Maddox said.

But Judge Money said the hardest part of getting a new correctional facility built, will be convincing Henry County residents to pay for it.

"The elephant in the room is the money. I think most citizens if they really take a step back and look at the situation, and if they were in our shoes faced with what we're facing with the jail, they would say we have to find a way to do this, and we've got to do it right," Money said.

On Tuesday, county commissioners approved a request to do a feasibility study for a new Henry County jail.

The measure gives permission for a consulting firm to proceed with a comprehensive report, inspection and design for a new jail.