Nearly forty people were in attendance Wednesday for a public information meeting on the proposed Marshall County jail expansion. At a cost projected well over $6 million, the county currently has a balance less than half that in a building reserve fund. The structure would be integrated with the current facility, reconfiguring cells to accommodate 38 in a new addition that would connect the current jail with the county courthouse. Sheriff Dan Hargrave talked about the need driving his consideration of a new facility.
The fire referenced was in connection with the October 2017 jail break. Hargrave noted that criminals were becoming more hard core, and inmate safety also needed to be recognized.
He noted that corrections officers had been added since, and policies have been updated. Hargrave was frank that a number of issues contributed to the jail break, but building security was not a primary factor. Citizens in attendance expressed a concern with lack of communication and asked why the public had not been involved previously in the planning process. A question was raised regarding the size of the expansion, with the inmate average in recent years at 15. It was noted that pending legislation may increase the inmate population on the counties. Marysville Police Chief Todd Ackerman responded.
Ackerman also noted with concern that the legislation could cut current sentences in half for many inmates, a move he does not favor. In reviewing architect renderings of the new facility, a question was raised about parking, which would be reduced to perhaps 10 vehicles in the south lot of the courthouse. Alternate sites were considered initially, but were dropped when cost estimates nearly doubled, as well as increased operational expenses. Commenting that he was not in favor of raising taxes, Hargrave distributed a handout with financing options, that included a 10- or 20-year loan, funded through general obligation bonds, a leasehold arrangement, or sales tax income.