Warren County has officially declared its intent for a $7 million jail expansion and will reimburse itself for any financial expenditures that occur toward that endeavor.
A resolution stating that passed the full Warren County Commission on Monday night with a vote of 22-0. Absent was Commissioner Gary Prater. With the resignation of Melissa Yancy, the court is down to 23 members.
The resolution allows the county to reimburse itself for preliminary expenses related to a proposed jail expansion project, if the project should be approved.
According to Commissioner Teddy Boyd, the county is attempting to prevent state intervention because of overcrowding.
“The jail expansion project may become necessary to alleviate continued overcrowding issues at the current facility which, if not addressed, could result in the state’s intervention,” said Boyd. “This in no way commits the county to an expansion project. However, it does signify to the state Department of Corrections that Warren County is taking the issue of overcrowding at the jail seriously.”
Overcrowding at the jail has been an issue for years. It has a capacity of 251 prisoners. However, there have regularly been more than 300. The state has instructed the county to correct the problem.
The measure passed the county Safety Committee, as well as the county Budget and Finance Committee and the Financial Management Committee, before being sent to the full commission for its consideration.
“The state is telling us we have to have more room,” said Commissioner Carl D. Bouldin. “The state is letting us go over capacity because we promised we are going to fix the problem or at least attempt to fix it. They are telling us we are needing more employees. All the pods are full so they’re taking all the storage rooms and turning them into jail cells. They have people in every nook and cranny over there.”
Passing the resolution means the county can hire architect Derrick Clemow, who is currently the architect over the Warren County School System expansion projects and is the architect over the new jail being constructed in Van Buren County, to review the current jail and offer his professional opinion on a possible expansion.
The resolution allows the county to hire Clemow, pay for those professional services out of the county’s general fund and if the county decides to move forward with the project, reimburse itself from the bonds, notes and/ or loans obtained for the project.
According to the resolution, the proposed jail expansion is estimated at $7 million.