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New jail must last more than a generation

The recent discussion by the Warren County Board of Supervisors on the development of the new county jail site showed that what was long discussed, long debated and needed for more than two decades is inch-by-inch becoming reality.

With the property purchased, surveying work underway and site visits of existing facilities in the region by Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace, county leaders and others, there is a chance a new jail will be built before the next two decades roll by.

It is often said the hardest part to any journey is the first step. Thankfully, with the supervisors’ moves to select the site and so on, that first step — and maybe a few others — have been taken. But, there is plenty of work, and tough decisions, still ahead.

In the coming months, an architect will be selected and plans will be drawn, redrawn, thrown away and new plans drawn. There will be debates as to the size, scope and features of the new facility.

It is our hope, that while those debates and discussions are important, that is even more important that they be led by those with the proper qualifications.

The supervisors need to have their say in this project, but at the end of the day, such planning and construction should be left to the experts. And, we hope those plans, and the ultimate construction of this jail, meet the demands of our community and our society 20 years from now, and simply not built on the needs of today.

The construction of a new jail is not something most elected officials want to do.

The site of a new jail is terribly unpopular to voters who will soon live by the jail. And very rarely does the construction of a jail lead to good re-election campaigns.

But, as this newspaper has said on more than one occasion, this jail is desperately needed and cannot be built fast enough. Our community needs it and needs it soon; not just for the safety and security such a facility affords, but the fiscal responsibility it brings about by being able to house our own system’s prisoners, without having to pay others to do it for us.

That said, while such a facility is quickly needed, time must be taken to do it right the first time.

We’ve waited more than 20 years for a new jail. We can wait a little longer for the right jail to be built.