Debby Schamber - The Orange Leader

There's no place like home for Orange County Jail inmates.

Orange County has been paying an average of $4,000 a day to house 126 prisoners in the Dallas and Harris County jails while the Orange County Jail's Hurricane Rita damage is being repaired. They should be back home soon.

"Barring approval with the Jail Commission and the fire department, the inmates will be returning on Tuesday," said Sheriff Mark White.

Housing inmates at the local county jail costs $55 per day. The costs incurred cover food, medical procedures and medication and staffing.

"The sheriff of the Dallas County Jail has graciously agreed to house the inmates for $26 per day," White said. "Texas Department of Corrections did not charge Orange County to transfer the inmates to Dallas because they already had the buses, but we had to provide officers to escort the prisoners."

No additional training was necessary for the officers since they had already completed an 80-hour correctional officer certification course.

"We have not had to pay the costs as of yet. FEMA is going reimburse us for the costs," White said.

The dormitory part of the jail was built in 1996. The hurricane-force winds caused cracks in the cinderblock walls, and the roof collapsed, damaging the ceilings and the air conditioning system. Only the offices damaged were renovated, and the inside walls had to be repainted because of water damage.

In addition to the dormitory renovation there have been offices added. The new Criminal Investigation Division offices were scheduled to be built before the hurricane.

"While we were doing construction we added the (CID) offices while everything was already down." White said.

The entire sheriff's department is expected to be in the completed offices by Nov. 28.

There was a delay in completing the jail repairs because structural engineers had to be called in to make sure the jail is safe to house the inmates, White said.