JOSEPH MRAK, the president of Securitecture, LLC, and Sheriff Brian BeGole presented a summary of the recently completed Shiawassee County Jail feasibility study during the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners’ Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 17. After detailing the jail’s many inadequacies, Mrak presented the commissioners with a proposed building design for a new jail and three site options, each with detailed cost estimates.
The first option proposed building a new jail on the existing site on MacArthur Street, the second proposed site was the Griffin Home property on N. Shiawassee Street (State Road), and the third proposed site was a 69-acre farm located south of Corunna.
Mrak pointed out during his presentation that constructing a completely new facility – as in the two latter proposals – would take between 19 and 24 months, while the first option – completely renovating the existing jail – could take up to 40 months.
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)
by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The results of a feasibility study of the Shiawassee County Jail were presented to the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, Oct. 17, and the report generally confirmed the findings of a Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) jail study completed earlier this year.
The MDOC report, which was presented to the board in March, cited liability concerns, the jail’s inefficient and antiquated layout, terrible overall condition and outdated equipment before concluding that construction of a new facility is warranted.
The feasibility study presented on Wednesday was conducted by Byce & Associates, a Michigan-based architectural and engineering services company, and Securitecture, an Indiana-based corrections, justice and public safety and security consulting firm. The study concluded that “all systems are beyond their useful life,” the jail is “operationally dysfunctional and staff inefficient,” and that continuing to use the jail is “not feasible.” The report also warned that liability concerns could lead the MDOC to force the county to close the facility.
The study also included conceptual designs and cost estimates for three site options, ranging in price from $35 million to $38 million. The number of beds would be increased from the current 132 beds to 220, and the square footage would increase from 25,000 to 63,000.
The new facility would utilize the safer, more efficient pod design that is used in many of the more modern correctional facilities throughout the country. Cells would be grouped in pods surrounding an elevated control room. Corrections officers would monitor and control every cell from the elevated control room, which would provide a 360-degree view of the facility’s entire inmate housing area. The increased capacity and pod design would also allow for proper segregation of inmates, which is not always possible due to the jail’s current layout and condition.
In Site Option 1, the new facility would be built on the jail’s existing site on MacArthur Street, with an estimated total mean cost of $36,787,172, or $550.82 per square foot. The greatly increased square footage would require the purchase of adjacent property, much of which is currently occupied by houses, and thoroughly renovating an operational jail could potentially create logistics concerns.
Site Option 2, with an estimated total mean cost of $35,071,119, or $384.72 per square foot, calls for the new facility to be constructed on the 24.9-acre Griffin Home site on N. Shiawassee Street, where the county’s parole/probation/work release center is currently located. The new jail would be located on the east end of the property, leaving room for the county’s buildings and grounds and drain commission offices.
In Site Option 3, the new jail would be constructed on 69 acres of farmland located south of the city of Corunna. The estimated total mean cost is $38,030,776, or $417.18 per square foot. The county does not own the property in question, so the exact location was not disclosed on Wednesday, but the proposed site is within a mile of the current jail.