Old Walker County Jail Awaiting its Fate

The fate of the old Walker County Jail is unknown after the new one opened earlier this year.
By  | 

HUNTSVILLE - The Walker County Sheriff's office built a new jail to meet its growing needs. The question that remains is what to do with the old jail.

"This facility has actually not met jail standards in approximately 16 years," said Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae.

"Everything here was operated manually. The old brass key is how we unlocked our doors."

Earlier this year, Walker County moved out of their longtime jail. State inspectors have said for years something needed to change so the county built a new one.

"It's like going from operating a third-world country to modern day and time."

Sheriff Clint McRae says the move was necessary.

"If we would have had something detrimental happen in this facility during that time that caused or turned into a lawsuit, the cost of that one lawsuit could have way superceded what it had cost us to build the entire new facility."

And the old one's rotting even faster now.

"Just in the time period that we have actually left this facility and are now in the new jail facility, you can see deterioration in the facility because that same daily maintenance is not being provided."

Right now, ownership of the old jail and the land it sits on is spilt 85/15 between the county and city respectively. A committee, including McRae, put together by the county is in the process of appraising the land.

They're waiting on two things before the committee can get a solid game plan together: the appraisal, and then how much it's going to cost to demolish the facility altogether. Once those two things are known, they can go to the commissioner's court and present their game plan.

"And at that point in time a decision will be made between city and county government as to what avenue we'd like to pursue first."

If that idea doesn't fly, the committee will keep working to find an option for a now locked-up lock-up.

"We're certainly going to try to do what's best for our community," Sheriff McRae said.

Sheriff McRae says he'd like to see the property go to the private sector so it can collect tax money to help the county.