Graham County Breaks Ground on New Jail

GRAHAM COUNTY, Ariz. — Officials celebrated the groundbreaking of a new adult detention facility for Graham County on June 22, although construction didn’t officially start until July 6.

The Phoenix office of DLR Group is serving as the architect on the project, while Tempe, Ariz.-based Okland Construction is serving as the general contractor. DLR Group has worked with Arizona on other justice facilities such as Maricopa County Lower Buckeye Jail.

After 14 years of attempts to build a new jail, the county will finally get to replace its current structure, which was originally built in the 1930s as a garage and maintenance shop for National Guard Armory vehicles, reported Eastern Arizona Courier. It was converted into a jail in the early 1970s, and the county has yet to decide what will be done with the current facility after the new one is built.

The new detention center will feature multiple level cells for up to 225 inmates; however, future expansion plans will allow the jail to grow if needed, according to Eastern Arizona Courier. The facility will house the Sheriff’s Office and its administration as well as jail administration staff. It will feature a much larger kitchen, compared to the current jail, and will include new laundry and inmate education facilities.

Okland Construction Project Director Glenn Trice told Eastern Arizona Courier that the facility would feature a fully automated, electronic system with full electronic surveillance as well as other efficient designs and technology enhancements.

To pay for the $22.5 million facility, voters barely passed a half-cent sales tax by only 63 votes (out of 6,919) in November 2014. The tax went into effect on July 1, 2015 and will stay in effect until July 1, 2040. If the money collected from the tax is more than needed, the county’s Board of Supervisors will either reduce the size of the tax, use the money to expand the jail or pay for any increase in operational costs, County Manager Terry Cooper told Eastern Arizona Courier.

The project will take about 14 months to complete, with an additional month to test all of the new facility’s programs.