Area jail addresses safety violations

Area jail addresses safety violations

Hutchinson County, TX - The Hutchinson County Jail faces closure if upgrades are not made soon.

Last September, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards cited the jail for several violations. Tuesday morning, county commissioners are meeting to consider how to fix them.

The jail needs nearly half a million dollars worth of upgrades, according to Sheriff Don Johnson. He said their aging control room has wiring and computer problems and there are not enough fire exits inside the jail.

"We're trying to go through and remodel to get the jail into compliance with state jail standards and the fire code," said Johnson.

County officials are considering rebuilding the control room from the ground up. They also plan to build additional fire exits in case of an emergency, which is something the jail has experienced before.

In March of 2014, a gas leak filled the jail with carbon monoxide and prompted an evacuation. "We exited everyone out of the jail in a timely manner through the front door, but under the fire code we're not supposed to do that because of the distance of travel," said Johnson. "We got everyone out safely, no one got hurt and there were no issues. However, to get into compliance with the state fire codes we have to do this."

A jail inspector will visit in September, and Johnson said the county needs to show progress in making changes. "If they are not made, they can come in and close the jail. We can't afford that. As far as time and travel and outside housing, it would be very costly. It will be to our benefit to make the repairs."

The Hutchinson County Commissioners Court will meet Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. to possibly approve a blueprint for the jail's remodel.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10