Lucas County Commissioners review two options for a new jail

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Millions of dollars will be put into building a new jail in Lucas County, making it the largest undertaking the county has ever taken on.

Now commissioners have two options, build another smaller jail for holding inmates before sentencing or a larger jail for both before and after sentencing of lesser crimes.

Tuesday protesters from local law enforcement stood outside the Lucas County Commissioners meeting while they reviewed the plans for a new jail.

Law enforcement says the current jail is deteriorating with a leaking roof and broken pipes. They also say if the larger jail is chosen it will create jobs in Lucas County.

Currently inmates that are sentenced for non-federal offenses go to Striker in Fulton County. President of UAW Local 3056 Patrick Mangold says law enforcement wants inmates held in Lucas County but the current jail is too small and often suffering from overcrowding.

“If the county commissioners choose to build a thousand bed facility it will, it keeps tax money in Lucas County, it keeps jobs in Lucas County,” said Mangold. “There are also opportunities to increase jobs in Lucas County, also there are revenue opportunities.”

A smaller jail with about 620 beds is estimated to cost around $142 million, keeping the same amount of employees but possibly moving some of them.

A larger jail with more than 1,000 beds is estimated to be around $180 million, creating about 30 new jobs.

Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp says either way a new jail is needed.

“The roofs are leaking, the pipes are breaking, the elevators are breaking down,” said Tharp. “We have three elevators that at any given time one elevator is broken down or two and that puts more stress on the elevator, one elevator running three times as much.”

Commissioners have a few months to decide which jail to go with and Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerkin says they have a lot more to think about than just a price tag.

“Have we properly given them support? Can they integrate back into the community without being a problem? Is their family still around them and in touch? Those are things you don't put a dollar figure on,” said Gerkin.

The current jail will be demolished, costing about $1 million. Commissioners will hold public forums before deciding on a location. They are hoping to start building the new jail by November 2015.

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