ANDERSON — Madison County officials plan to increase the number of beds at the proposed new jail facility.

County commissioners have announced that the number of beds would be increased from 400 to 525. The estimated cost will remain at $85 million.

The county is in the process of completing the purchase of 43 acres at a cost of $795,000 from Meijer in northern Anderson. The sale is contingent on the county obtaining the necessary zoning from the city of Anderson and the outcomes of three studies of the site.; studies of the site.

Tim Stires, deputy director of Anderson Municipal Development, said the property would have to be rezoned for business or industrial use and the county would have to obtain approval for a preliminary and secondary plat. Stires said the Anderson Board of Zoning Appeals would have to approve a special use for the placement of the jail on the property.

Commissioner John Richwine said the increase in the number of beds was recommended during the jail study by Sheriff John Beeman, Prosecutor Rodney Cummings, local judges and the public defender’s office.

“We need a larger jail than originally planned,” Richwine said. “It’s hard to get everything we want because of the inflation increase.”

He said the latest proposal includes dormitories instead of cell blocks.

Beeman, who took office in January, said he has been urging an increase in the number of beds in the new jail plan.

“With the projected cost the county will not be able to finish all of the pods,” he said. “Our daily population right now is over 400 people; the jail would have been full the day it opened.”

The current Madison County jail was constructed with 207 beds.

Beeman said the commissioners are considering double bunking in the new facility.

“They need to finish the pods for the necessary classification of inmates,” Beeman said, noting that he’s opposed to dormitory housing and instead favors the completion of the proposed cell block pods.

“There is not a sheriff in the state that supports dormitory housing,” he said. “The commissioners should ask the jail commander who has 16 years of experience.”

Cummings cited a desperate need for additional jail space in Madison County and said that a jail with only 400 beds would not be big enough.

“We have between 430 and 440 people incarcerated on a daily basis; that’s not going to get any better,” he said.

“If the jail when constructed is not big enough, the county will still be housing inmates out of the county,” Cummings continued. “If we’re going to spend the money, we want an effective facility.”

He noted that the Madison County Community Corrections Complex uses dormitory-style housing.

“A dormitory might be OK for low-level offenders, but it is less secure than in cell block,” the prosecutor said.

The county council approved a 0.2% increase in the income tax that would generate about $5.4 million annually to pay for construction of the new jail.

Sanjay Patel, a project architect with RQAW Architectural and Engineering Services, said last year that the preliminary design for the new jail would feature a two-pod plan to house inmates with a central control point that can oversee all the individual cell blocks.

As proposed, one pod would house 237 inmates and the second would house 139 with space allocated for expansion.

Patel said the plan includes rooms for medical staff, classrooms and isolation rooms.

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