CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In the uncertainty of whether or not Nueces County needs a new jail, building a new jail can take a long time and cost the county a lot more.
The Nueces County Sheriff's Office has opted for a new jail assessment study plan, according to Nueces County Sheriff J.C. Hooper.
Officials hired an external consultant to perform a jail needs assessment and will also study the criminal justice system in Nueces County.
Officials said every year it is more and more of a challenge to keep it functional.
Hooper said building a new jail could be the solution in the long-term, but that it’s more complicated than it seems.
In order for this to be considered for the future, a report still needs to be done to investigate the facilities.
“Building a jail is going to be a really expensive thing, and I’m only guessing it can be over $200 million, it can be $300 million," Hooper said.
After the jail failed its state inspections and because of overcrowding Hooper said the study was necessary.
The Nueces County Jail is now at 90 percent capacity and Hooper said he hopes this new jail assessment study will help avoid housing inmates out of the county.
He said it's also because the cost for housing out of county inmates continues to go up.
“Since the pandemic, we have spent well over $1 million in housing inmates in Aransas County and Victoria County,” Hooper said.
Hooper added he expects the report to state what in the jail needs to be fixed, and to determine if a new jail is necessary before such an investment would be made.
“When is comes to spending that much money for infrastructure that you are expecting to last 10, 20, 30 years — you don’t do that half hazardously. You have to know exactly what to build, how to build it and where to build it,” he said.
The cost of this plan will be over $200,000 and it will take about six months for the study to be done.