MADISONVILLE-After many years of looking, debating and receiving decertification threats from the state, the Monroe County Commission voted Tuesday morning to purchase land for a new jail.
The vote to buy the land passed 8-1, with Roger Thomas being the only no vote. The county will buy 20 acres on New Highway 68 just down from Warren Street in Madisonville at $22,500 per acre, for a final cost of $450,000.
Estimates on how much it will cost to build a jail have varied anywhere from $15 million to $30 million, but as the county looks to move to the next step, costs haven’t been officially set.
The county’s need for a new jail may have been given an extra impetus after newly-elected 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Crump announced it would be the policy of his office for a first-time parole violator to receive a 30-day sentence, while a second-time parole offender would have to serve their entire sentence. County officials also said last week they had been told by two state officials the county would have to show progress or risk losing its jail certification this month.
New Sheriff Randy White said over the weekend the jail had 198 prisoners, a number that was down to 168 by Tuesday morning.
County Mayor Tim Yates said the county could look at leasing a building for any non-violent overflow offenders until a new jail is ready.
“If we started building today, you’re looking at two years before the jail would be ready,” said Yates. “We’ll need to have something before then if we end up with all these new prisoners.”