HUNTSVILLE, WALKER COUNTY A brazen jail escape in 2011 forced Walker County Sheriff's officials to get serious about their out-of-date jail. Nearly three years later they are almost ready to move inmates into a brand new facility.
Trent Archie forced his way past jail staff in June of 2011, escaping out the front door of the jail. The whole ordeal was caught on camera. Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae said having only a single door between offenders and civilians was definitely unsafe. The new jail is set up so that doesn't happen.
The new Walker County jail is just a few hundred yards from the old one, but miles more advanced. Tuesday, the public was invited in to see what the facility looked like, from the inside.
"As long as they're acting right, they'll be able to sit out here," explains a deputy to the crowd gathered in the intake room. Many people never willingly get this close to the inside of a jail. Residents in Walker County, though, were eager to see.
"It's extremely exciting," said McRae. He and his department have pushed for a new jail facility for years. The county faced three options; expand the old one, ship overflow inmates out of town or build a new one. The solution that fit the best was a new facility.
"Building a new facility, making long range plans for future growth, is most certainly a better business decision as taxpayers," said McRae.
It's also the best way to improve security.
In June of 2011, Trent Archie escaped from the Walker County Jail by forcing his way past jail staff at the front door. All of it was captured on camera. The old jail was out-of-date and not up to code.
Something that Sheriff McRae says contributed to the escape.
"If that facility would have met current jail standards, that exact method of escape would not have worked and that's very comforting to know," explained McRae.
The new jail meets all requirements set out by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. They even finished $500,000 under budget and about a month and a half early. The current jail is set up for 268 inmates, but has a capacity of 566. The sheriff's office says they could start moving inmates over by April.