Mental Health Needs Incentivize Expansion at McLean County Jail

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Construction on the $45 million McLean County Jail project has officially reached its final phase and is slated to begin transferring inmates by early October.

Farnsworth Group partnered with HOK to work on the three-story, 80,000-square-foot expansion; delivering approximately 150 new direct supervision cells with the ability to house one more pod holding roughly 50 additional cells in future phases. This will allow inmate capacity to increase from 225 to 354 once the project is completed.

A sky bridge also connects the new and current facility, a significant determining factor in choosing the site for the addition, which is a part of the downtown Law and Justice Center, as reported by the Pantagraph.

Originally constructed in 1976 and formerly expanded in 1990, the McLean County Law and Justice Center has been at capacity since 2008.

Mental health needs increased for inmates while the indirect supervision linear cell block configuration limited the ability to adequately classify and hold inmates without overcrowding in some sections as other sections were potentially underutilized.

These challenges met with an aging facility drove McLean County to pursue an expansion.

The new cell accommodations will include separate mental health facilities while improving classification across the general population, enhance inmate management for both genders, and allow the facilities to accommodate best practices related to staff-inmate communication and proactive inmate management, according to Farnsworth Group.

Additional features include new laundry facilities, inmate visitation space, a renovated portion of the existing linear jail to expand health and other inmate services, roof and window replacement at the existing jail, utility upgrades, improvements to the building’s fire protection system and upgrades to the HVAC system.

Before the expansion began, the team used other models as a reference during the design process, visiting three to four other correctional facilities.

Transfers to the new facility will be coordinated with remodeling work on the existing jail.

Additionally, a new, expanded medical department will replace the over-capacitated quarters currently used by nurses and other medical staff.

Reports by Farnsworth Group and The Pantagraph contributed to this story.