Jacksonville city leaders say the current Duval County Jail is falling apart and millions needs to be spent to bring it up to par. During a special city council meeting Friday, council members talked about problems at the jail, including mold and structural issues.
Taxpayers will eventually spend over $380 million to build a new jail, but it will be several years before that happens.
The Sheriff’s Office is in bad shape. We’re told the Duval County pretrial detention center is a mess and safety hazard. News4JAX asked one man being released today what it’s really like.
“Well, for the most part it’s mold, a lot of mold on the walls, on the ceilings and the roof. And one of the holding cells I was in had a hole in the roof. So when it’s raining like today, it leaks in,” he said.
Leeann Hartman who was in the jail not long ago agrees. “The whole downstairs is flooded so there’s mold because of that. That’s coming up with black mold and the showers are horrible. The water pressure is terrible. Yeah, it’s bad.”
A city council committee showed a list of problems on Friday ranging from non-working elevators for the high rise structure, major plumbing back-up, electrical issues, air conditioning concerns and mold.
It’s estimated it could cost nearly $16 million to address the issues in both facilities, $9 million just for the jail.
We asked city councilman Michael Boylan why we should spend that kind of money if we’re just going to get rid of it in the short term to build a new one. “Well, the sense of urgency with respect to the police or the detention center really is a sense of safety and security. So, you heard there are thousands of people in that building at any given moment in time. And, it’s not a very secure facility. It’s not a very safe facility. We have a responsibility to those people in there.”
The pressure is on to move both the jail and Sheriff’s Office off of the river and open that land up for development.