Jail Overcrowding Breaks Record
Open the doors to where the jail expansion should be and, it's a brick wall behind them. A metaphor, perhaps, for how Sheriff Sadie Darnell is feeling.
"I've only been in office six months and I'm already incredibly frustrated," says Darnell.
She says it's taking too long to complete the 62-bed renovation and start on a 256-bed expansion.
And the tight quarters are starting to create safety concerns.
"Our staff are genuinely concerned, I am genuinely concerned, and I know our Sheriff is genuinely concerned," says Captain Jeff Coultier who supervises Jail Security.
The Sheriff says it's time to ask county commissioners what's taking so long.
"Because we are a government entity, that's how slow entities are. If we were in the private sector, we would have had it done by now," says Alachua County Commissioner Rodney Long.
"By now" meaning two years later. Money for the jail expansion was promised back in 2005. And since construction costs are now higher, the Sheriff worries if the original amount will even be enough.
"We need to get this moving, it's not like the problem's going to go awa," says Darnell "We need to have somebody focus on it."
She hopes to focus commissioners on it Tuesday night at the commission meeting. She'll make a presentation and plead for an expedited process.
But commissioners say it's going as fast as it possibly can.
The 62-bed renovation should be completed within 2 to 3 weeks. But the expansion process, not even started, is anybody's guess.
By Anne Imanuel, WCJB TV20 News
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