JACKSON, MI — The 70-year-old Jackson County Jail may be one of the worst of its kind in the state, Jackson County Sheriff Gary Schuette said.
Conditions are “deplorable” for inmates and prison staff at 212 W. Wesley St. Jail, Schuette said during a presentation to Jackson City Council on Tuesday, May 10. As a solution, he lobbied for a new prison to be built on the site of the current building.
After speaking with the department’s insurance company, Schuette said he was told Wesley Street Jail was the worst of its kind in the state, “hands down.” Last week an architect was brought in to carry out a full assessment of the facility, he said.
“A priori, it doesn’t look good,” Schuette said. “I suspect the installation is probably not repairable based on conversations I’ve had.”
Building a new prison will cost about $40 million, Schuette said. One method of raising these funds is a county mileage tax increase that would include the costs of running the county’s Chanter Road Jail and funds for a new Wesley Street facility.
The architectural firm’s report should be ready in the coming weeks, Schuette said. Once he has the report, Schuette said he plans to prepare a proposal for the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to consider at its June meeting.
A mileage proposal could be presented to voters in November.
In his slideshow presentation to Jackson City Council, Schuette highlighted several design issues and structural risks in the current Wesley Street Jail, including facility-wide plumbing issues and cell layouts that impede staff efforts to observe inmates.
The latest addition to the prison was built using drywall, which caused problems when inmates grabbed it to expose dowels and screws, which some inmates turned into weapons, Schuette said. .
Like the installation, many of the prison’s door and cell locks are also around seven decades old, breaking frequently and requiring repairs, Schuette said, comparing the current installation to a 1953 rotary telephone. , when it should be a modern smart phone.
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