Criminal Justice

Temporary jail cells costing more than $11 million to build

Related story from Fox8 News is here.

Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s temporary jail will cost over $11 million, The Lens has learned.

The site where four buildings will house up to 400 prisoners has been cleared. Photo by Matt Davis

The Lens and Fox8 News revealed on Tuesday that Gusman has started work on building 400 new temporary jail beds even before the city’s Criminal Justice Working Group — established last week by the mayor to examine the jail expansion — holds its first official meeting.

In an interview that day, Gusman said he didn’t know how much the temporary facility is going to cost, but he said the expense is being covered entirely by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA documents obtained by The Lens show that the temporary jail will cost $11.1 million. The number is part of a comprehensive list of sheriff’s projects (pdf) paid for by FEMA.

Gusman told The Lens and Fox8 News he plans to move prisoners from his 288-bed South White Street facility to fill the temporary buildings, and that the new temporary facilities will not result in any increase in the total number of beds in his jail, which currently has capacity for 3,552 prisoners.

The sheriff said the temporary jail is to be demolished when his new permanent jail opens, scheduled for sometime in 2013. Some support the temporary jail while others want the work stopped.

The FEMA documents also show a price tag of $50 million for a new kitchen/warehouse/plant facility, which is also already under construction on South Perdido street.

The crane towering over the jail facility is working on a $50 million kitchen and warehouse for the complex. Photo by Matt Davis

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