Monroe County Sheriff’s Department opens up new justice center to the public

Sheriff: Current jail so old insurance company doesn't want to insure it

After two decades of controversy and political battles, construction on the new justice center in Monroe County is nearly halfway complete.

Saturday, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department invited the public for a tour of the completed portion of the building.

“This is a state-of-the-art facility, a lot of tax dollars are being used here and I want the public to see what their money is going for,” Sheriff Scott Perkins said.

The new justice center is estimated to cost about $34 million, but Perkins said it is a much-needed upgrade.

“Our current facility is antiquated, the last update was back in 1988, prior to that I want to say it was the early ’60s,” he said.

The sheriff said the current jail cells are broken and cannot be fixed.

“It got to the point where the insurance company doesn’t even want to really insure us anymore just because it’s so out of date.”

Perkins said the new jail was designed with safety in mind for both the inmates and jail staff. Instead of inmates being led by an officer everywhere, they will now be directed almost entirely by camera and microphone.

The line to get a tour of the new Justice Center was full all day Saturday. Monroe County residents were very impressed by what they saw inside and are happy to see this finally coming to fruition.

The new jail is three times bigger than the current Monroe County jail, which Perkins said will actually be a savings to the county and its taxpayers in the long run, by bringing all Monroe County inmates under one roof.

“We are housing anywhere from 70-90 inmates out of county and that’s a big bill that we have to foot,” Perkins said.

The jail is in Phase 1 of the project and is expected to be housing inmates within the next few weeks. The entire project is expected to be finished around August of 2016.