County officials looking into portable jails

Tony Parra

The reality of a portable detention facility will be researched from May 11-13 by Roosevelt County Commission officials and Roosevelt County Detention Administrator Jesse Luera when they tour a facility in use.
The Roosevelt County commissioners originally scheduled to fly to New Orleans to research the facilities in late April, but Roosevelt County Administrator Charlene Hardin said the company representatives for General Marine Leasing were going to be in a conference in Houston. Hardin said four commissioners and Luera will be making the trip. Marine Leasing is paying for rooms at a hotel for their stay, according to Hardin.
“They’re going to be touring the (GML) facility to see how they’re put together and they’re going to be traveling to Dawson County, Ga. to see one in use,” Hardin said. “If they (commissioners and Luera) determine the size of facility they want, then GML representatives can give them price quotes. Once they visit GML, they’ll have a better idea of time-frame and cost.”
The headquarters for GML is located in New Orleans.
“We’ll see one in use and we’ll get a better understanding,” Commissioner Gene Creighton said. “It’s a good possibility we’ll have one. It makes sense cost-wise.”
If Roosevelt County commissioners do opt for a temporary facility, the size will be the biggest question. General Marine Leasing offers sleepers for 10 or 12 men, facilities for 24 or 48 men and a 64-man dormitory.
“I wouldn’t suggest anything less than a 48-man facility,” Luera said. “The inmate total has been at 96 before. I’ve seen the total fluctuate between 65 and 75 inmates. It would help us dollar-wise (instead of transporting inmates to other counties at a cost).”
Luera said the reasons for a 48-man facility are to avoid having to transport inmates again and to have the additional space, because the numbers may rise when stronger DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) laws in place in July.
Luera said he will be asking Dawson County Detention officials are how the facilities are holding up and what kind of supervision the facilities require, among other questions.
“This looks like the direction we are heading,” Luera said. “I want to make it a clear understanding that it’s not for long-term use.”
GML began building 14 gauge steel shipping containers similar to portable buildings used by Steiner Elementary and Broad Horizons, but in the shape of a railroad cart for offshore living quarters for oil and gas companies, according to GML’s brochure.
Creighton praised GML for the timeframe they can have a temporary facility in place. Hardin said Roosevelt County would be responsible for prepping the site and setting up utilities.
“They can have a temporary facility set up within three weeks,” Creighton said. “We could lease the facilities and see how they work. It’s the best possibility we’ve looked at so far.”