By Roxanne Squires
CAPE MAY COUNTY, N.J. — The brand-new $35 million Cape May County Correctional Center has successfully completed the transfer of nearly 200 inmates after opening the new facility earlier this month.
The previous, aging correctional center — which sits next to the new facility — was built in 1976 and could only hold up to 180 inmates while the jail serves more than 200 a day on average, according to the warden. The previous facility will eventually be demolished and turned into a parking lot for the new correctional center.
The new 85,000-square-foot correctional center provides minimum-, medium- and maximum-security blocks, a large medical wing with six cells, a pharmacy, doctor’s office, laundry, and rec rooms.
The minimum-security wing, resembling a college dorm, offer bunks in lieu of cells.
The inmates are allowed to walk around the wing during the day, with access to an indoor recreation room containing ceiling-high windows that bring in natural light. In addition, basketball hoops are provided for physical activity and minimum-security inmates will be able to watch television in the wing.
Medium- and maximum-security wings use a similar layout, except inmates will be kept in their cells, as the new modular cells eliminate windows to prevent problematic communication between inmates.
Additionally, the new center will accommodate inmates and staff with more space and a completely separate area—applying the same self-contained design—for the center’s female inmates.
The facility also maintains security by allowing inmates to only leave a locked wing of the facility when meeting with a lawyer.
Corrections officers are stationed in a command center located in the “center” of the facility, and hallways with cells extend out from the command center. The design separates inmates into smaller, more manageable groups of 64 that can be better supervised.
The new, spacious medical facility will allow the jail’s 24-hour healthcare staff to handle a variety of illnesses on-site. The new facility is also hurricane-resistant and is built to guard from tidal flooding.
Farmingdale, N.J.-based Hall Construction Co. served as the builder while Evansburg, Pa.-headquartered L.R. Kimball served as the architect.
Construction began in August 2016 and reached completion in August 2018.
Reports from SNJ Today and AIA Philadelphia contributed to this story.