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County, state officials celebrate new jail opening

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dcjail_grandopen1Denton County Sheriff Will Travis, Denton County Judge Mary Horn and other county and state officials recently marked the official opening of a new 364-bed jail with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Officials toured the facility, which has been in the planning and building stages for 10 years. The building will provide an additional 192 beds to the Denton County Jail facility as well as space for an additional medical unit and special needs housing.

The county currently houses from 1,300 to 1,350 inmates, according to the Denton County Jail average daily consensus reports. The additional facility, with the wooden barracks no longer in service, would bring the jail’s capacity to 1,600, officials said.

Other renovation projects for existing older facilities at the Denton County Jail are planned for the future, though a specific timeline has not yet been configured, officials said.

The 87,000-square-foot facility, which cost an estimated $30.7 million paid for with funds used from a 2008 bond election, sits in the jail complex at Woodrow Lane and McKinney Street in Denton.

The facility replaces the wooden barracks which have been used in Denton County to house inmates. Denton County was among the last in the state to use wooden barracks, officials said.

To save costs for future jail expansions, commissioners created a design that could be replicated, said Denton County Commissioner Andy Eads. “We designed this new jail so that it could be used as a prototype for future jails to save on engineering and design costs,” he said.

The facility is designed to allow more natural light and in a way that is safer for both the inmates and the employees, Eads said. “We used innovative designs in satisfying the state jail standards,” he added.

The new jail incorporates a fully-enclosed exercise and courtyard area and the main building is surrounded by a hallway and outer building that increases the security, Eads said.

The county also recently opened a new juvenile detention center and a new training facility for the sheriff’s office.

State Rep. Tan Parker and State Rep. Myra Crownover joined the grand opening celebration as well as Hugh Coleman, Bobbie Mitchell and Eads – all Denton County Commissioners. In addition, representatives from the offices of State Rep. Ron Simmons, U.S. Congressman Michael Burgess and State Sen. Jane Nelson attended the grand opening and presented flags to the Denton County Sheriff’s Office.

“I want to thank everyone who worked so hard on this project, not only on the building of the facility, but on the planning and coordination as well,” said Sheriff Will Travis in a news release. “Without them, this would not have been possible.”

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