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Dewitt County Upgrades Jail Facility
After more than a year of planning, the DeWitt County Jail is getting a new look with a little fresh paint.The jail has been open for nearly 20 years, and after years of inmates coming and going, this is the first time the jail cells will get a fresh coat of paint.
"We're being proactive," DeWitt County Jail Administrator Betty Smith said. "We're trying to fix things before you have to replace them."
Re-painting the jail is something jail and county officials have been wanting to do for quite some time.
"The better we keep it, the better our inspections are going to go," Chief Deputy Michael Walker said. "Plus, the more we keep the maintenance up, the less costs we're going to have to try and get things fixed."
The total cost to paint the jail cells and pods is nearly $90,000. Of that, $80,000 comes from the county jail's planned budget. The rest of it is coming from the Building Depreciation Fund from the county.
The job is a work in progress, which means the inmates have to relocate.
Chief Deputy Michael Walker said they are keeping the jail population low, currently holding about 70 inmates, when normally they have enough room for more than 80.
"We have them in other areas of the jail," Walker said. "Each pod either has six or nine cells inside it, so we keep enough space where we can move them other places without overcrowding the other areas of the jail."
DeWitt County Jail administrator Betty Smith said both county officials as well as the inmates appreciate the new look.
"If you're in a clean facility, the inmates will take pride in their surroundings, and when the inspectors come, they see that we run a tight ship and it's clean, and they will be more apt to send their people here because they know it's being taken care of," Smith said.
DeWitt County Sheriff Jared Shofner said after 20 years it was hard to punish inmates for vandalizing their cells due to the amount of pre-existing damage. However, the new paint will make it easier to enforce and discipline inmates.
Currently, inmates have to wait about a week for the paint to dry before they can return to their cells. DeWitt County Jail officials said they should be finished in about a month.