Exclusive: Underground Tunnels Used to Transfer Inmates to Court Downtown

LUBBOCK,TX - As millions of dollars are invested into the revitalization of Downtown Lubbock, one factor will remain the same. It sits underneath the Lubbock County Court House as an underground tunnel. 

Beneath the bricks of Texas Avenue sits the last operating underground tunnel in the Hub City. It has a radius of two blocks connects the Court House to the new Lubbock County Sheriff's Office.

LSO operates this tunnel as a means to transfer inmates from their holding cell to court.

"Some of them (inmates) talk about "Walking the mile," LSO Court Division Deputy Terry Fahrlender said. 

Fahrlender told KLBK and EverythingLubbock.com the main purpose of this system is security. It provides a secluded area to move inmates that keeps prisoners, deputies, and the public safe. 

"Anytime you transport an inmate, there's always a worry that something could go wrong," Fahrlender said. "They cold obtain an alternate weapon or the could maybe fall down, or maybe verbal altercations between other inmates."

Only deputies assigned to the LSO Court Division are assigned to transfer inmates. Fahrlender said the ratio of deputy to inmate varies on the availability and court case for each individual. However, it is usually one deputy per prisoner. 

LSO said those deputies must pass specific training for this transfer into the courtroom environment as well. 

"We try to think about scenarios that could happen," Fahrlender said. "What could happen in this situation, how would you handle that? If you've got an inmate getting rowdy, trying to maybe start something with another inmate, how are you going to handle that what are you going to do with that inmate, are you going to continue that transport? are you going to break off? are you going to call for additional help? There are just different options according to what the situation may be."

He added some inmates took advantage of the situation and used this transfer to start a fight with another inmate. Therefore, several security cameras line the hall and inmates are immediately taken back to their holding cell after their court appearance.  

"These are individual rooms with a total population count, so many inmates per cell," Fahrlender said. 

The renovated holding cells are a part of the new Sheriff's Office that holds about 38 inmates at a time. 

County Commissioner of Precinct 1 Bill McCay said their new facility adds to the overall revitalization of Downtown Lubbock. 

"They're an anchor to downtown," McCay said. "So it's critical to have these beautiful buildings, to be reutilized and turned into a productive use. I look forward to more restaurants, we think there's a boutique hotel going to the old jail. So that's pretty exciting to downtown Lubbock and it's what small way we help in the downtown revitalization."

This tunnel is currently out of operation under construction in that area is complete. 

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