New Wexford County Jail Nears Completion

By Rachel Leber

CADILLAC, Mich. — The new Wexford County Jail in Michigan is in its final days of construction, projected to be complete by Nov. 14 by Granger Construction Co. of Lansing, Mich. Once complete, the new jail will provide a safer and more efficient jail for the county. The original groundbreaking for the project was in August of 2016.

The current 50-year-old jail was built in the traditional linear model and has only 32 beds. The jail was built with a traditional rectangular shape and is set up in a way such that, when correctional officers observe one cell, they can not observe others, leaving unobservable inmates unsupervised.

The new 49,000-square-foot jail has 158 beds as well as administrative offices and will serve as the new Wexford County Sheriff’s office headquarters. The architect on the project was Hooker DeJong Architects of Muskegon, Mich. The design of the new jail is designed with a new pod model in an effort to prevent the supervision issue from recurring. With this design, multiple clusters of cells surround a living area (pod), which contain tables, chairs and televisions. The pod model of the new jail will allow for continuous observation of inmates by staff.

Movement of inmates from one area to another is one of the greatest security obstacles a jail is faced with, according to Greg Webster, administrator of the Wexford County Jail in a recent interview with The pod design of the new jail will serve to prevent this. Additionally, the pod model will allow inmates to receive visitors in their cell via a new video visitation system.

“Because of the pod system and the number of cells, we are able to keep the minimum-security inmates separate from people who are there for a felony,” said Webster. “Now, we are able to keep those with misdemeanors away from inmates with felonies. That is huge.”

Additionally, the new jail will have classrooms for inmate meetings and classes, and improved health-related services. The new jail will have a full-time nurse and will offer weekly doctor’s visits as an improvement from the previous every-other-week system for doctor’s appointments. In addition, the new jail will have a more secure way to store inmates’ personal belongings with a new conveyor system, which will be kept in a locked room. The new jail will also run more efficiently with new industrial washers and dryers and new industrial equipment for the kitchen.