Construction Cleared for Johnson County Jail

CLEBURNE, Texas — Johnson County, Texas finally received approval in late September to proceed with Phase I construction on its increasingly inadequate jail in Cleburne. The project will improve and modernize the 870-bed facility, built in 1989, expanding its capacity by more than 200 beds. As the local population is expected to double to 300,000 by 2050, the expanded jail will help the county better prepare for projected growth, reported the Star-Telegram.

Fort Worth, Texas-based Burns Architecture LLC is the project architect, hired in 2014 when the project was initially approved. Sedalco Construction Services, also of Fort Worth, was awarded the $18.6 million construction bid, which is specific to the project’s first phase. Together with costs for Phase II work, which will focus primarily on improving the existing facilities, the project is expected to total $25 million. Funding will largely be provided through a $20.6 million bond, as well as county funds.
The county’s existing jail complex consists of four buildings; C1, C2, C3 and C4. Though still functioning, the buildings suffer from rusting bars, aging fixtures, and other deterioration. The first phase of work will add a new building, C5. Building C5 is designed to include new and larger intake, release and arraignment areas. A new kitchen and laundry as well as transportation and sallyport areas will also be built. In total, C5 will add 212 new beds spread across four separate housing pods.
Following the completion of Phase I, Phase II will concentrate on renovations inside building C1, which was originally designed to hold 311 inmates. C1 is approximately 25 years old and currently contains the small and aging intake, release, kitchen, sallyport, medical, housing and administrative offices. The kitchen will be a particular area of focus, as the existing space serves approximately 800 inmates daily, though it was designed for just more than 300. Similarly, the current sallyport contains just enough space for a single vehicle.
The project’s second phase will also add an expanded control center, a new video visitation center and 28 new separation cells. Renovations and expansion work will also be completed on the existing administrative spaces — which will be brought into compliance with Texas Accessibility Standards — as well as the existing communications center and housing area. Estimated construction cost for Phase I is $16.5 million, while Phase II is estimated to cost $4 million. Constructing the C5 building will also ensure inmates displaced during renovations to C1 will not have to be housed outside the county at an added cost.
Key design elements include much-improved sight lines in all areas as well as spaces large and flexible enough to support both current and future needs. Each housing pod will include six, eight-bed multiple occupancy cells surrounding a correctional officer station providing unobstructed lines of sight into each cell or dayroom as well as five separation cells. Two pods will share exercise, multipurpose and first aid areas located between each of the pods creating a symmetrical layout.
While Sedalco Construction Services has been cleared to begin construction, the official groundbreaking ceremony has not yet been scheduled.