Bartlett hopes reopening prison will boost local economy

The city of Bartlett hopes reopening the jail in fall 2024 will be a big win for local businesses. (KXAN/Barrett Tryon)

BARTLETT, Texas (KXAN) — The Bartlett State Jail is back. The state closed what it was called the Bartlett State Jail in 2017 because it didn’t have enough inmates. But now it’s reopening. And it’s a welcome sight for the people who call Bartlett home.

“It used to be full of antique shops and stuff like that, but that’s gone now,” said Emily Kruse. She knows a thing or two about the local economy. Kruse owns and operates the Red and White grocery store in the city center.

She’s used to the lunch crowd. And she hopes it’ll be even busier when the prison returns in the fall.

“People are posting (about the prison) on Facebook,” Kruse said. “They’re excited because a lot of people don’t necessarily have transportation, and gas is so expensive right now. People can’t afford to get out of town to get to work.”

“I personally think it’s a good thing for Bartlett,” Mayor Chad Mees said. “It’s a good thing for our region. We’re creating 300 jobs right here in Bartlett and the surrounding area.”

Outside the prison, officially called Bartlett Unit, things are a bit quiet. But changes are only visible from the inside.

The Texas Department of Justice said the prison will provide new options for inmates, including dormitory housing and specialized programs tailored to their needs to help them before they are released.

Kruse hopes this will bring more foot and car traffic back to the city centre.

“It’s nice and cozy, and there are a lot of new things happening here,” Kruse added.

The prison is scheduled to open in October 2024.

A recruitment event is scheduled for July 23 and 24 at the jail, located at 1018 Arnold Drive. To view available positions, go to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website.