Demolition Work Starts on New Fairfield County Jail

LANCASTER, Ohio — Demolition began on the King’s Furniture building in Lancaster earlier this month in preparation for the new Fairfield County Jail to be built by Lansing, Mich.-based Granger Construction Company.

The contract with Granger Construction Company is set at a maximum price of $32.7 million, and construction management costs will be just less than $2 million, reported the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette.

The new 384-bed jail and sheriff’s office will replace three outdated, overcrowded jails. Building the new facility became necessary after Fairfield County’s three jail buildings failed a state inspection in 2013. The county had not passed one in 25 years, mainly due to issues of overcrowding. Sheriff Dave Phalen told Correctional News at that time that the three jails combined are supposed to hold a maximum of 133 inmates under state standards; however, they typically hold close to 270 inmates.

Overcrowding wasn’t much of an issue when the discussion for a new jail began more than a decade ago. Since that time, however, the county has grown by 147,000 residents and the jail numbers have significantly increased, Another reason for the growth of inmate populations include sentencing changes that divert low-level, non-violent felony offenders to local jails (instead of housing them in state prisons), said Bob Cornwell, executive director of the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association, in a statement. The Fairfield County Jail has shown an increase in fourth- and fifth-degree felony inmates who would have gone to prison but were diverted to the jail instead because of the sentencing changes, according to a statement by County Commissioner Steve Davis.

If construction goes as planned, the new jail will start accepting prisoners in June 2017, with the project being completely finished by August 2017.