Inmates returning to Monroe County

Monroe County bringing back about 55 prisoners housed elsewhere

Monroe County had to send dozens of its inmates out of county at a time due to overcrowding lasting more than a decade, but with their new jail, they’re now able to house them again.

It’s a long time in the making, but Sheriff Scott Perkins said Monroe County finally has enough space to hold all of its inmates.

“I’d say the past 25, 26 years they’ve been talking about a new jail, a new justice center, and it finally came to fruition,” he said.

A portion of Monroe County prisoners had been housed in surrounding counties due to overcrowding for years, but the new Justice Center can hold 180 inmates, which is triple the old facility’s capacity. The County is in the process of bringing inmates housed elsewhere back.

“We had approximately 70 out of county at one point, and right now we’re right now our populations at about 50, 55 and we’re slowly bringing them back,” Perkins said.

Perkins said bringing inmates to their county brings them closer to home and makes visits with family easier, and it’s also easier on the county.

“It was costing probably, depending on the county, sometimes $55, $60 dollars a day per inmate to house out of county,” he said. “That’s money that’s going out of our county and not staying in our county.”

The justice center came with a price tag of about $34 million dollars, but project representative Kurt Marshaus said the new technology is worth it

“It’s on a pod arrangement with a center control tower. So from that center pod, they can watch all the general purpose cells and cell blocks, which is amazing efficiency for staff and for visibility,” he said. “The electronics are amazing. Everything is controlled sitting at a console. You can turn on and off lights, open and close doors, watch cameras. The technology … is amazing.”

“It’s just a safety issue on the inmates’ part and staffing,” Perkins said. “This is much, much better than the old system.”

Perkins said they started bringing inmates back from other counties about a week and a half ago, and the goal is to have them all back in two weeks.

The next step for the project is beginning Phase Two, which adds the new sheriff’s department, four court rooms and the DA’s office to the building. It’s expected to be complete next May.