Essex County Jail could open June 1 PDF Print E-mail
Written by LOHR McKINSTRY, Staff Writer   
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

ELIZABETHTOWN — The modular jail that Essex County is using won't be resold but will be converted to office space when the new County Jail opens.
County Sheriff Henry Hommes said Monday he believes the County Information Systems Department will move into the modular jail when the new 120-bed County Jail in Lewis opens later this year.
"I'm hearing it's (the modular jail) going to stay in the county as additional office space. The fence will come down. There'll be a lot more parking."
The 21-cot, dormitory-style jail will be converted to offices, and the razor-wire-topped exercise yard outside will be turned into parking.
The county bought the jail three years ago from Washington County for $250,000, plus shipping, and assembled it at the rear of the county complex in Elizabethtown.
The modular facility apparently doesn't have much resale value, Hommes said.
"I mentioned it to another county, and it was laughed at."
Essex County hopes to make money by boarding in prisoners from other counties after the new jail opens, and Hommes said that date has now been moved to June 1.
"I am guessing June 1. That is purely a guess."
He said many other opening dates he was promised by contractors came and went, but he hopes this one sticks.
The county's daily jail population is up, so more prisoners have to boarded out when the modular jail fills up. Hommes said he's had 50 inmates on weekends recently.
"I'm up considerably over last year."
The jail population was closer to 35 to 40 inmates a day in 2006.
If June 1 is the first date he can move inmates over from the modular jail, Hommes said, by September he should be able to take a limited number of outside prisoners, gradually increasing that if everything goes OK.
The State Commission of Correction regulates municipal jails, and Hommes said it will be up to that agency.
"We do have arrangements with another county to board their inmates here" when the commission allows it, Hommes said.
He recently learned from the Commission of Correction that it may require an additional staff nurse position at the new jail.



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