A look inside the new Franklin County Jail

Commissioners have approved $360 million to spend on building the new jail that focuses on getting inmates the services they need.

According to one study, about 40% of adult inmates will re-offend within three years.

In Franklin County, commissioners have approved $360 million to spend on building a new jail that focuses on getting inmates the services they need so they don’t commit further offenses.

“That’s the goal. We don’t want them to come right back. We want to treat them very decent, the best way. We want to make sure they get the treatment they need,” said Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin.

Sheriff Baldwin explained building a new jail wasn’t just about space. It’s about creating a better way to treat inmates as they either prepare for court or to be sent off to prison.

“Anything the inmate needs in here, we want to make sure that they get set in the right direction. They get treatment here, they get treatment when they leave. Hopefully, they don’t come back,” he said.

While the old jail is built with long hallways of cells, the new jail is open so guards can see inmates at all times.

“We’re not only changing the way our building is designed, but we are also changing the way we operate,” said Franklin County Chief Deputy Geoff Stobart.

There are also rooms within pods where the county can offer services like medical needs or addiction services.

It gives the jail staff more flexibility and safety because the services go to the inmates, instead of the inmates having to be moved from within the jail.

“We know one thing for sure, they are in crisis mode. Those people need access to resources and people that can help guide them and then navigate them through the system,” said Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce.

According to Stobart, 75% of inmates are released within three days, and most are released back into the community. He argues it is better not only for the inmate but for the county to get those incarcerated the help they need so they don’t return.

“We want to do everything in our power to try to help those folks break that cycle to keep those folks from cycling through the doors. Quite frankly, it’s a more fiscally responsible option,” Stobart said.

There’s a pod that specializes in treating those who are going through withdrawal, especially for the ongoing opioid epidemic. There are services brought into the space, and more restrooms, showers, and beds are closer to the ground.

“These folks continue to cycle through our jail. We want to do everything we can, while we have them to hopefully get them connected to services, get them connected to treatment, particularly medicated assisted treatment, which we are now offering,” Stobart explained.

After years of planning, every decision put into the facility was designed to prevent a return for the inmates.

“It’s also a way to protect the public. It’s a way to make sure we are doing everything we can because most of the people who come to the jail will be back outside those doors,” Boyce said

The jail will start bringing inmates in next spring.

There is a phase two of the jail that will be more than 400 beds for women.  It is scheduled to open in 2023.

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