After nearly two years of construction, a new 21,000 square foot facility will house the inmates of Love County come January 2, 2020.

The Love County Justice Center, located in Marietta, will have the capacity to hold up to 100 inmates — a stark contrast to the mere 30 inmates that can be held at the current 5,000 square foot facility, said Love County Sheriff Marty Grisham.

“We’re growing, the county is growing, our prison population is growing,” Grisham said. “This old one that we’re in now was built in 1980 and it’s basically been used up.”

Six or seven people are often stuck in one cell, with very little room to move around at the current facility, Grisham said. The justice center, however, was designed with a pod system and each pod can comfortably hold up to 28 individuals.

“They’re bigger and roomier, which gives the inmates more room to move around,” Grisham said. “With the way the laws are right now, we have to be a little more, for the lack of a better word, humane about the way that we keep our inmates now and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

In addition to more space, the new facility will include a few updates in technology, with several new video cameras located throughout the building and a control center to observe the footage. “You can see everything going on in the building,” Grisham said.

The current facility is also costing the sheriff’s office a large amount in maintenance due to plumbing issues.

A half cent hike in sales taxes was approved by voters in order to fund the new facility’s construction after the sheriff’s office initially saw a need for it a few years ago, Grisham said. However, there were a few bumps in the road to completing the construction.

“The construction and different companies seeing it, there was a lot of stuff that happened that kind of delayed us a little bit,” Grisham said. Despite delays, however, the building was officially completed in November. “Regardless of all that, we’re there now,” he said.

Once the current inmates are transported to the new facility in January, Grisham said the former building will likely be remodeled and used by the Love County OSU extension office.

“We’re just proud to have this facility here in the county and I think that the people of Love County are really proud of it,” Grisham said. “We’ve got to give (the inmates) room. They’re just people that have come in and made a mistake, so let’s treat them the best we can while they’re in and maybe when they get out they’ll start a new life.”