Warren County’s old National Guard Armory will be passed to the Sheriff’s Department pending a February 20 County Court vote.
Warren County Executive Terry Bell said the Sheriff’s Department and the jail have started to run low on space. He said the evidence room is full and the department has limited space for Trustee programs. With the Armory located right next to the jail, Bell said this switch just made sense.
“I think they’re going to try to build a bigger conference room down there and maybe expand some of our Trustee Programs,” Bell said. “Because we need to keep the trustees away from the general population which is hard to do right now. With this building, we should be able to accomplish more of those programs.”
Bell said the armory already has a safe that can be used for evidence, so much of that can be transferred over, clearing space for storage in the current building. Bell said two committees have already approved the change with no opposition.
“It’ll have to have some renovations and hopefully, if everything goes well, we’re putting in a carpentry program in the jail to teach the inmates carpentry,” Bell said. “We hope to utilize them to actually do the work in the armory.”
Bell said the unavailability of space has a detrimental ripple effect on inmates and the county as a whole. He said without space to house more trustees away from the general population, it becomes challenging to teach inmates life skills that will help them with future careers, which in turn hurts the jail’s recidivism rate.
“We’ve implemented a lot of programs in the jail to help them get educated and get the skills they need so that when they get out of jail, they’ll be able to go to work,” Bell said. “That’s the important part of the additional space.”
He said some offices and the employees that use them can be moved over to the armory, freeing up that space to potentially house trustees. He said several churches work with the Sheriff’s Department by coming in to help rehab inmates which also stretches the facility’s square footage thin.