Rockwall County unveils new 80,000-square-foot addition to the County Jail

ROCKWALL, TX – March 8, 2022 — Nearly four years ago on Nov. 6, 2018, Rockwall County voters approved $50 million in bonds to expand and renovate the county jail. Yesterday, the Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office unveiled the jail’s massive new facility to the public.

Jail staff welcomed Rockwall County Commissioners, representatives from project consultants Broaddus & Associates and the DLR Group, along with representatives from project builders Adolphson & Peterson Construction to a tour of the new facility along with refreshments in the facility’s new Direct Supervision wing.

The new addition doubles the existing 243-bed capacity of the jail to 444 beds. The last addition to the jail was added back in 2000, expanding the original facility which was built back in 1988. The next phase of the project is expected to bring renovations to the jail’s older wings.

“A new jail wasn’t the most popular item that we could take out to bond to the voters, but it’s so important and this facility specifically was very much needed here in Rockwall County,” said Rockwall County Judge David Sweet.


Guests of the Dedication Ceremony tour one of the inmate ports of the new jail


Rockwall County Sheriff Terry Garrett addresses guests at the Dedication Ceremony of the new jail


“The design was specific to the needs of the county,” said Rockwall County Sheriff Terry Garrett. “Once we get inmates in here and start working, first of all we want to make sure it’s safe for our personnel and that it’s safe for the inmates. There are a lot of things here such as classrooms and other things we can do long term for the inmates so that when they do get out, they’re a functioning part of our community. And that’s what we all want.

“We want to thank the commissioners for going out for bond on this thing and having a facility with which we can serve the whole county with.”

Coming into the sally port area of the new addition, where an individual who is arrested will come through first, a drug testing room with its own HVAC system makes it safe for officers to test the individual for dangerous substance abuse without fear of any residue being circulated throughout the facility.


Sally port of the new addition to the jail



“This drug testing room is something we didn’t have in the old facility,” said Captain Alex Gray with the Sheriff’s Office. “The room has its own HVAC because with the threats of fentanyl and other really dangerous drugs out there right now, if an officer were exposed to those it could be a life-threatening issue. The HVAC is designed to remediate that threat immediately, and if any officers or arrestees are exposed, we have an outdoor shower in the sally port where they can rinse it off immediately.”


Officers stand in the new mental health and medical wing of the new jail.


The pride and joy of the new facility is its mental health wing. Major/Jail Administrator Todd Calkins said it’s unique for a facility with less than 500 beds to have its own mental health and medical wing, which you usually see in some of the detention centers in the bigger counties.

“Currently I have 20 separation cells in the whole facility, and 10 of those are holding individuals who are waiting to go to a state mental hospital,” he said. “That could be a year or two years. We now have our own facility like it so we can manage those individuals as best we can.”

Walking through the halls of the new jail versus the old jail feels like a night and day difference. In the new addition, the walls throughout the facility’s various wings and rooms have a calming presence with cool blue and green tones. Plenty of skylights add to that effect, with lots of natural light able to penetrate many of the main rooms. This feature is completely absent in the old jail facility.

“It changes the dynamic because inmates and staff get to see the sunlight and the changing of the morning to night and night to morning,” said Captain Gray. “A lot of studies show that having normative colors and exposure to sunlight changes the temperature of jails – not the literal temperature but the temperature in terms of how we provide treatment to the inmates who are cooperating.”

The new addition clearly brings a lot more space than the old facility, and this is most noticeable in two rooms in particular – the kitchen and the medical wing. The new addition tripled the size of the old facility’s kitchen, complete with state-of-the-art appliances to allow staff to churn out 40,000 meals per month compared to 20,000 meals in the old facility.



The new medical wing includes individual offices and cubicles for the staff, whereas in the old facility, all of the medical staff are confined into one rather cramped room about the size of two of the new office rooms combined.


Inmate rec room


Design-wise, a lot of attention was paid to allowing jail staff to have their own space due to the high-stress nature of the job.

“We wanted to focus on staff having a space of their own, and to focus on job satisfaction when it comes to the environment that they’re working in,” Captain Gray said. “It’s probably one of the most stressful jobs a person can have. So if you’re able to create an environment that’s not only conducive for the inmates but also conducive for your employees, where incorporating those positive things and lessons learned over the hundreds of years of corrections – that was our goal.”


Cubicles in the medical wing offer staff their own space, with lots of natural lighting from skylights


The new addition to the jail certainly includes all the tools necessary to keep it running efficiently and safely for both inmates and jail staff. But according to former Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson, the one constant that has attributed to the continued success of the jail’s operations is the staff.

“Really when you get down to it, it’s all about the people. And the people who work here and have worked here in the jail are what makes this thing work,” said Eavenson, who recently retired after a 38-year career in law enforcement, including 20 years with Rockwall County. “I never worked in the jail, but it didn’t take me long to figure out being a detention officer is not an easy job, or any kind of law enforcement officer for that matter. It’s an honorable profession.”

Rockwall County Detention Center Recruitment Event March 17



Those interested in joining the jail staff can come tour the new facility at 950 T.L. Townsend during a Recruitment Event put on by the Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, March 17. The event begins at 10 a.m. at the Rockwall County Detention Center and will include accelerated hiring opportunities for the positions of detention officer and communication officer. Benefits for these positions include the following:

  • Communication Officer salary of $43,000 – 56,000/year
  • Detention Officer salary of $41,000 – 52,146/year
  • Certificate and Education Pay
  • PTO
  • Holiday Pay
  • Retirement
  • Medical, Dental and Vision Insurance
  • Career Advancement Opportunities
  • Paid Overtime

For more info email

Tour the new jail during Open Houses on March 19 and March 24

The Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office will also host two Open House events for community members to tour the new facility on Saturday, March 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday, March 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The events are open to the public, with grilled burgers and hot dogs available.

Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.

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