In recent years, officials at the Walton County Jail have had to think of creative ways to deal with overcrowding. You might recall semi-permanent facility which some have dubbed a tent.
Public Information Officer Dennis Wise says, "At the present time we had the facility erected in the courtyard to relieve the overflow that was in the jail we took the 37 female inmates and placed them in the new construction area."
But this is only a temporary solution.
Walton County District 1 Commissioner Lane Rees says, “the current facility based on the growth that Walton County has, is going to be under capacity and we need to expand."
A new jail now looms just over the horizon. On Tuesday, Walton County commissioners approved a contract to expand the jail by a vote of three to two. The jail will cost $13.7 million.
Commissioner Lane Rees says although the bid was slightly higher than estimated three years ago, Walton County needed to act.
"As you know the economy is starting to improve, the price of steel and other components is fixing to start going we hear, and so the ability to make a decision now and lock in the lower prices was also important."
The new jail will actually be an expansion of the old one, a point of contention for those who opposed the jail contract. One deputy we talked to feels a new jail should be built on different site, but Commissioner Rees says a committee evaluated several options.
They felt the most cost effective was to stay at that location, to take advantage of the current site and be able to comment.
Walton County Sheriff Ralph Johnson refused to comment on the issue.