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Kzoo Co. jail expansion delayed
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The opening of the Kalamazoo County Jail expansion has been delayed, Newschannel 3 has learned.
The $23 million expansion is nearly complete, and the entire project has been on-budget and on-schedule until now.
The county will now have to decide how it should handle inmate visitation.
The brand new intake area in the jail expansion features a seating area roughly as big as the old intake area altogether.
The only part still being resolved, that the rest has to wait on, is visitation.
With everything else new and state of the art in the $23 million Kalamazoo County Jail expansion, the plans are also to update how many inmates see visitors.
Gone is the old way of talking through some glass.
"In today's system, I have to move an inmate down the hall to another area to visit a family member who comes in the front door," explained Sheriff Richard Fuller.
Now, inmates will be able to walk just outside their cell into the common area and talk to family and friends by Internet.
"In the future, the family will be in the building next door and there will be no movement of an inmate out of their cell area," Sheriff Fuller said.
Even though everything else is just about finished, construction has not even started on that visitation building next door.
Sheriff Fuller wants to tear down a building already standing behind the jail, and build it there.
The cost is projected to be $5.5 million, which, because of some newly added costs, is around $1 million higher than a previous estimate, and county commissioners have still not voted to approve it.
Fuller says that once it's running though, the new visitation system will pay for itself, saving the Sheriff's Office money every day, as they won't be moving inmates for visits.
"In the long run, we can save Kalamazoo County so much money in gas and personnel expenditures in the transformation of the inmate population," Fuller said. "That's why we built this facility."
Now waiting on the issue, the Sheriff hopes to start moving into the expanded facility in the Fall.
As they start the move, the old jail will be renovated and it will still be used.