JACKSON COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) — A new county jail may be coming to downtown Jackson. This comes after this week when the Jackson County commissioners voted unanimously to approve a proposal for an estimated $50 million project.

The Jackson County Jail was built in the 1950’s. Now, decades later the sheriff’s department says the inside is outdated and falling apart, and bringing with it safety concerns.

“This facility is in the worst shape of any correctional facility that I’ve been involved with, and that’s in 35 years in corrections,” said Jackson County Sheriff’s Captain Anthony Stewart.

The proof is not hard to miss. From decaying pipes that are leaving weekly messes, to a heating and cooling system regulated by a meat thermometer.

Stewart says that’s just the start of it, as the older design also creates blind spots.

“Inmates understand this,” Stewart said. “They understand where the blind spots are, so that’s where our assaults happen.”

The walls were originally built to withstand a nuclear blast, but today they’re too thick to drill into, and are also blocking the signal needed for technology in 2022.

“A lot of our visits with the court are trials over zoom. A lot of our visitation is through zoom, so it’s very problematic having that type of technology in this type of a structure.”

The department also says the structure is shifting. It’s adding security issues near outside gates. While inside, access for deputies to get into cells is also creating issues.

“When they have to respond to a fight, or somebody that is trying to commit suicide, they have to fumble through these large keys.”

That’s because in the control center out of the 35 buttons that would allow somebody to get into a cell, only seven of them work.

The department says while they are doing all they can, something needs to change.

“In 1952, this worked. In 2022, it doesn’t,” said Stewart.

The new building would feature a 250 bed complex. If approved in November’s election, the millage would be set over 20 years. It’s a process that would create more room for inmates and safer features for deputies.