Madison Co. begins planning phase of construction of new jail

JACKSON, Tenn. — Madison County officials kick off the planning phase of a possible new jail. And, for the first time, a timeline is released for when that jail could be completed.

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 5.32.55 PM“We’re really laying a strong foundation with the meeting we had today,” Rosser International Inc. architect Mark Van Allen said.

Madison County leaders attended the first of four meetings Wednesday with the architectural design team who will develop the plan for the new jail.

“The existing facility has certain challenges as it relates to supervising inmates,” Van Allen said. “It has some challenges from sight lines and staff to inmate ratio.”

Designers reviewed models of the existing jail and discussed improvements that would have to be made before moving all inmates to one central facility.

“The county has made a huge capital investment in this building,” Van Allen said. “We’re trying to make certain that we can recapture that value, as much of that value as we can, while improving the safety and security for the facility, for the inmates and the staff as well.”

Although the county plans to reuse and re-purpose the current jail, the design team admits it won’t be an easy construction process.

“What to do with your inmates when you’re doing it,” Rosser International Inc. architect Buddy Golson questioned. “It’s doable, it’s nasty and it’s difficult.”Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 5.35.45 PM

“If you go in there and reuse it, you’ve got to tear things out,” Madison County Sheriff John Mehr said. “Then you’ve got to relocate inmates to somewhere else.”

The planning phase of the project is expected to be complete by the end of 2016. Once the county approves the design and budget, it will take nine months to a year to complete the planning process.

“We’re looking at a four- to five-year process, starting sometime in early 2017,” Van Allen said.

Wednesday afternoon, the sheriff and the design team toured the penal farm and jail annex to get a better idea of the facilities. Sheriff Mehr refused to allow our staff to take part in that.

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