The Putnam County Commission saw preliminary plans Tuesday night for a project to expand the justice center.
The plan calls for 800 additional beds and at least three new courtrooms.
Grant Tharp is Vice President of Cope Architect. He said expanding the facility will be one of the more challenging projects his company has had to take on.
“Just being in the urban environment and having a limited site footprint that we’re trying to add major additions to is the main challenge we have,” Tharp said. “That’s driving us having to go vertical.”
Tharp explained that a jail committee has ultimately decided that expanding upon the current facility would be the county’s best option as opposed to constructing a brand new building.
“30-acres in the city is sort of tough to come by for this type facility,” Tharp said. “Plus, if a new facility was built elsewhere, this one would be abandoned and the county would have to come up with some kind of after use for that facility.
Tharp said state law also requires the courtrooms to be located inside city limits.
Putnam County Sheriff Eddie Farris said an expansion makes more sense logistically.
“If we go outside, the staffing would have to be increased a lot more,” Farris said. “We also like to be near court so we can be housed in one building and transport in and out of courtrooms through our facility itself, instead of having to go outside through the public.”
A growing population has led to the need for a new jail facility. Farris said the current jail has capacity for 252 inmates, but houses 407.
Farris presented the project plans to county commissioners Tuesday night. He provided no cost estimates, but said he plans to bring that to the commission later this year.