Canadian County bought two van-type buses three years ago to transport prisoners, Undersheriff Chris West said. The vehicles were converted for prisoner transport and can hold up to 15 inmates each.
Those vehicles will be put to use elsewhere once the jail expansion is completed, West said.
West said he and Sheriff Randall Edwards opposed taking money from the Children's Justice Center to build a new jail.
“We feel that one of the reasons for our county's low crime rate is our strong juvenile justice system,” West said. He said the county's incarceration rate is about 2 per 1,000 population, compared to the statewide average of about 4 per 1,000 population.
The Children's Justice Center provides services that include assessment, prevention, education, probation, treatment, independent living services, home-based services and detention.
In July, commissioners awarded a contract to Smith-Doyle Contractors Inc. of Cordova, Tenn., to oversee construction of the jail addition. Anderson said the $4.9 million price tag includes architectural work and financing.
Commissioners are overseeing the project themselves, Anderson said, using a design team and construction manager. The architect is Spirit Architecture Group of Collierville, Tenn. The two companies form SouthBuild Team, which specializes in rural county detention facilities, said team construction manager Don Abernathy.
The jail addition will have features that include a larger kitchen, laundry facilities, a visitation area and a new booking area, Anderson said.
“Our goal is to make it safer for officers,” Anderson said. The new booking area will have holding cells, with the area designed to be more secure for jailers.