JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Election day is exactly three weeks from Tuesday, and in Jackson, there are several proposals on the ballot, including one that would bring a new jail to downtown.
The Jackson County Jail was built in the 1950s.
Step inside and the evidence of aging is hard to miss, from decaying pipes to a heating and cooling system regulated by a meat thermometer.
Additionally, the control room has outdated hardware needed to open cells.
Jackson County Sheriff Gary Schuette says it’s created poor working conditions for deputies with safety concerns around every corner.
“It’s really bad for them and you know we have a difficult time right now attracting people to come into law enforcement in general and corrections and then when they come in and work in these conditions then our retention also becomes very difficult,” Schuette said.
Captain Anthony Stewart says structurally, the building is not holding up.
“This facility is in the worst shape of any corrections facility that I’ve been involved with and that’s in 35 years in corrections,” Stewart said.
The total cost of a new jail is just under $52 million.
Officials are hoping a new millage will pass and pay for the facility over the next 20 years, but there’s been some confusion about where some of the money will go.
The sheriff says a very small portion of the funds would go towards a couple of development authorities, but only for select boundaries, as that is the language required by law.
Sheriff Schuette says there will not be cuts if the proposal doesn’t pass, but he says they can no longer apply band-aid fixes to the list of growing problems.
“Frankly, I am proud of the fact that we’ve gotten 70 years out of the jail, but we just can’t go any further,” he said.
The department says they will offer a tour to anyone who is interested prior to voting.