Dallas County officials are planning to move prisoners into a new four-story jail tower as early as Monday, according to a county commissioner.
Commissioner John Wiley Price said the city of Dallas issued a temporary certificate of occupancy on Tuesday. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards also gave the county the go-ahead to begin moving prisoners to the south tower jail, he said.
Price said sheriff's officers will begin their training Thursday morning inside the jail, located in the Lew Sterrett Justice Center complex. They will continue training during the weekend to be ready by Monday's scheduled opening as contractors make the final fixes, Price said.
The south tower jail had initially been scheduled to open late last year but was hampered by construction delays. The building is expected to cost at least $68 million.
Price said he would like to begin moving inmates from the George Allen jail into the third and fourth floors of the south tower jail on Monday. He said the priority is emptying the George Allen jail at 600 Commerce St.
The Suzanne Kays jail on Industrial Boulevard then will be emptied and its prisoners moved into the south tower by the end of the month, Price said. The state owns the Kays jail and will demolish it to make way for a new bridge over the Trinity River.
Being able to cease operations in the George Allen and Kays jails will save the county millions of dollars.
The south tower will be the first county jail to have guards placed inside inmate housing areas to provide direct supervision - a growing trend in jails across the country but a new concept for Dallas County.
With direct supervision, jail guards will be stationed inside each housing tank, sitting behind a desk on a raised platform, facing two levels of dormitory-style sleeping areas.