A New Duval County jail could cost over $380M, but current jail still needs to be repaired

The Jacksonville City Council is still working on plans to move the jail from its current location downtown to another area of town but it could take years before that happens.

Until then, there are plenty of other issues that have to be dealt with now.

The jail along East Adams Street is 32 years old and the administrative offices next to it are much older than that.

Right now, it’s expected a new jail could cost over $380 million. Where it will go, and what it could look like still has to be decided and it’s going to take time.

City council members are beginning to address that and on Friday two members met to discuss some of the details. In that meeting, they said before any move can take place the current jail is going to need repairs.

“I think there’s no question that the existing facility needs some attention,” said Councilman Michael Boylan. “And I think we’ve been remiss in doing so. And so I’m looking for Councilmember [Randy] White to head up that working group and to bring us back some definitive answers to make it as safe and secure facility for the short period of time that we still are going to be in use, which short period is three to five years, most likely.”

When the jail first opened it was one of the largest in the country, but by the time they moved inmates back in it was already 80% full. Since then, the city has increased the capacity to about 3,000 by adding more to each cell. On average the jail houses about 2,600 people.

New council member Chris Miller will be heading up the committee that is looking at how inmates will be housed at a new jail. For example, those serving sentences: Would they be housed near those who are there overnight?

“It’s not just put everybody in one area, and it’s all good. There’s a lot more that goes into that,” Miller said.

That is why he said they need to deal with the problems that are occurring at the jail right now.

“We should always be trying to aim for a situation where we don’t have to push the capacity limits,” Miller said.

These are just some of the issues the council is dealing with and the final cost and the time frame are still up in the air.

The council committees want to have recommendations ready by the first of the year.

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