Voters Approve New Ingham County Jail and Justice Complex

By Aziza Jackson

MASON, Mich. ­— Voters in Ingham County have approved the construction of a new jail, the first to be built in over five decades.

The Lansing State Journal reports that the 0.85-mill tax will raise an estimated $6.2 million in the first year.

The funds will reportedly be used to pay off bonds on an estimated $70 million justice complex that will include the new jail, and administrative offices for the sheriff’s department and 55th District Court facilities.

“Being able to replace this falling-apart, aging facility is going to benefit everybody in Ingham County,” said Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth to the Journal. “There were a lot of (no votes) and a lot of people don’t think this is needed or don’t want to pay the extra taxes, and I get that, but this is a huge day for the residents of Ingham County.”

The current jail was built in 1964 and had major renovations done in 1984 and 2004, and reportedly accommodates about 444 inmates.

The new jail would hold the same number of inmates, but officials say the better design would make it easier to monitor more cells at one time, according to the Journal.

The county’s website says that modern regulations and changes in inmate population have made the current facility obsolete. The maintenance of the current facility and the immediate repairs needed would cost millions of dollars over the next few years and the facility will still need to be replaced. Major repairs are needed just to keep the building operating safely for the employees and the inmates housed in the facility. Investing in repairing the deteriorating building and then building a new facility in the future would cost taxpayers more overall.

Last year, there were reportedly more than 2,000 maintenance requests at the jail, and county officials anticipate spending at least $500,000 annually on repairs, according to the Journal.

The new facility would reportedly be located on the same site as the old jail in Mason. The current jail would reportedly remain open until the new facility opens, county officials said to the Journal.

Construction is reportedly expected to begin as early as 2020.

A report from the Lansing State Journal and information from the official Ingham County website contributed to this story.