Public Tours New Jail in Kent County

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Dozens of people from the West Michigan community got a chance to tour the new Kent County Correctional Facility on Monday during an official dedication.

The renovation project included a complete overhaul of  the jail, including cells, lighting, plumbing , and technology.

The facility, located at 701 Ball Avenue in Grand Rapids, will start moving  inmates next week.

The renovation project  broke ground back in May in 2010, but has been in the works for years.

“It took a very long time to complete this project,almost seven full years , 84 months, 364 weeks and over 2500 days from start to finish,” said Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma, who spoke at the dedication.

“That’s a pretty long county project, but more importantly I think it points out how many hands were involved in this project,” he said.

The renovation project was funded by the renewal of a 1990 millage approved by the taxpayers in 2008.

The old jail, which was built-in the 1950s, was outdated and needed safety updates.

One of the biggest improvements is a new  full body scanner and a video visitation system, which means inmates don’t have to leave the housing area to see friends or family.

The project was completed ahead of schedule. A relief  to the department after a setback when a crane collapsed on the site earlier this year during the construction. Nobody was seriously hurt during that accident.

Demolition of the old jail will be completed by Spring of 2013.

According to a  report from the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, 26,4000 inmates were processed and admitted to the jail in 2011.

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