Warren County Grand Jury recommends prioritizing new jail

Published 2:53 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2023

The March term of the Warren County Grand Jury issued recommendations to governing bodies in the county last month.

Among the recommendations was for the Warren County Board of Supervisors to “give all reasonable priority to the construction of a new jail due to the inferior state of the current facility including plumbing and foundation deficits that are not repairable.”

Sheriff Martin Pace met with the grand jury during the session. He said the recommendation for a new jail has been consistently made for the past roughly 20 years.

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“After years of grand jury recommendations to replace the aging jail, I’m pleased that the board is moving forward with plans to construct the new facility,” Pace said. “The process began under the last board with the purchase of the land, but COVID and other factors slowed the process.”

The current county jail was originally built in 1907, and the deterioration and limited space of the building have proven to be an obstacle for the sheriff’s office. Misdemeanor inmates are legally not allowed to be housed in the same area as felony inmates, meaning that Warren County has to pay other counties to keep some of its inmates in their jails.

“The cell blocks that once were used to house misdemeanors are now full of pretrial felons,” Pace said. “And we routinely have to house the overflow… in other facilities.”

Housing inmates in other facilities is not only costly but requires time and manpower from the sheriff’s office in order to transport them, he added.

The grand jury also recommended the renovation of the old jail after the construction of the new one to be used as the central location for the sheriff’s office.

In early March the Board of Supervisors awarded a bid to RiverHills Bank for a short-term note to secure financing for site preparation and pre-construction work on the new site.