City officials say new jail nearing completion

Mayor Dwight Jones, second from right, and other officials give the media a tour of the new city jail Wednesday. (Photo by Brandy Brubaker.)

Mayor Dwight Jones, second from right, and other officials give the media a tour of the new city jail Wednesday. (Photo by Brandy Brubaker.)

Richmond’s newest extended stay facility is nearing completion.

The new Richmond city jail will open for business in the coming months.

The 430,000-square-foot facility, dubbed the Richmond City Justice Center, will replace a 1960s-built jail half its size. In January 2012, ground was broken on the new jail, located right beside the current facility on Fairfield Way. The city said the final cost of the project is about $133.6 million.

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, Sheriff C.T. Woody and Lt. Col. Roy Witham led a tour of the new facility Wednesday. Finishing touches are still underway inside the building and Witham said they expect to receive an occupancy permit shortly.

The jail has 1,032 beds but can accommodate an additional bunk per cell as needed, Witham said. It’s broken up into 32 pods and six minimum-security dorms. Six of the pods and 144 beds are reserved for female inmates.

Each pod will have locked cells, a recreation area, a dining area, telephones, videophones for visitation, showers and an observation desk for the assigned officer.

The new facility streamlines many services currently conducted at different locations throughout the city. For example, the center has a holding and booking facility and a space for a magistrate to hold arraignments. It also has its own infirmary, capable of handling everything from a simple cold or cut to more complicated procedures like dialysis.

Inmates will spend a majority of their time in their assigned pod. (Photo by Brandy Brubaker.)

Inmates will spend a majority of their time in their assigned pod. (Photo by Brandy Brubaker.)

The city says the current facility is overcrowded and inmate living conditions will improve in the new jail facility.

“The idea was to get away from the notion of warehousing prisoners. We wanted to have better conditions for inmates. We wanted to have better conditions for the sheriff’s staff,” Jones said.

On Wednesday, there were 1,111 inmates at the city jail, Witham said. Last year, the jail averaged 1,330 inmates at any given time and 20,000 cycle through over the course of the year. Although the current jail was built with 882 beds, it can accommodate 1,300.

Daily population numbers have begun to drop with a recent concentration on identifying alternative sentencing options for appropriate nonviolent offenders, Witham said.

The jail’s inmates are either awaiting trial for everything from DUI to murder or are serving shorter sentences for lower-level crimes.

The city expanded the 1963 jail in 1991, according to a report on the facility. It will be torn down to make way for parking and landscaping for the new jail.

Tompkins Builders of Washington D.C. and S.B. Ballard of Virginia Beach teamed up as general contractor for the project, the mayor’s office previously said. T.K. Davis Construction of Richmond was selected as a subcontractor, among others.

Mayor Dwight Jones, second from right, and other officials give the media a tour of the new city jail Wednesday. (Photo by Brandy Brubaker.)

Mayor Dwight Jones, second from right, and other officials give the media a tour of the new city jail Wednesday. (Photo by Brandy Brubaker.)

Richmond’s newest extended stay facility is nearing completion.

The new Richmond city jail will open for business in the coming months.

The 430,000-square-foot facility, dubbed the Richmond City Justice Center, will replace a 1960s-built jail half its size. In January 2012, ground was broken on the new jail, located right beside the current facility on Fairfield Way. The city said the final cost of the project is about $133.6 million.

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, Sheriff C.T. Woody and Lt. Col. Roy Witham led a tour of the new facility Wednesday. Finishing touches are still underway inside the building and Witham said they expect to receive an occupancy permit shortly.

The jail has 1,032 beds but can accommodate an additional bunk per cell as needed, Witham said. It’s broken up into 32 pods and six minimum-security dorms. Six of the pods and 144 beds are reserved for female inmates.

Each pod will have locked cells, a recreation area, a dining area, telephones, videophones for visitation, showers and an observation desk for the assigned officer.

The new facility streamlines many services currently conducted at different locations throughout the city. For example, the center has a holding and booking facility and a space for a magistrate to hold arraignments. It also has its own infirmary, capable of handling everything from a simple cold or cut to more complicated procedures like dialysis.

Inmates will spend a majority of their time in their assigned pod. (Photo by Brandy Brubaker.)

Inmates will spend a majority of their time in their assigned pod. (Photo by Brandy Brubaker.)

The city says the current facility is overcrowded and inmate living conditions will improve in the new jail facility.

“The idea was to get away from the notion of warehousing prisoners. We wanted to have better conditions for inmates. We wanted to have better conditions for the sheriff’s staff,” Jones said.

On Wednesday, there were 1,111 inmates at the city jail, Witham said. Last year, the jail averaged 1,330 inmates at any given time and 20,000 cycle through over the course of the year. Although the current jail was built with 882 beds, it can accommodate 1,300.

Daily population numbers have begun to drop with a recent concentration on identifying alternative sentencing options for appropriate nonviolent offenders, Witham said.

The jail’s inmates are either awaiting trial for everything from DUI to murder or are serving shorter sentences for lower-level crimes.

The city expanded the 1963 jail in 1991, according to a report on the facility. It will be torn down to make way for parking and landscaping for the new jail.

Tompkins Builders of Washington D.C. and S.B. Ballard of Virginia Beach teamed up as general contractor for the project, the mayor’s office previously said. T.K. Davis Construction of Richmond was selected as a subcontractor, among others.

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Marcus Squires
Marcus Squires
8 years ago

In my opinion the city should look into retaining the old structure, unless there is a compromise in the facility. Because if there is not, then they could rent it out to other localities state wide that may currently be looking into building new detention centers, when the localities could be using the space in Richmond.

William Johnson
William Johnson
8 years ago

The old City Jail should be demolished. No human being derserves to live in such filth. Whoever thought of the name “Richmond Justice Center” must have been reading Orwell at the time. Talk about “doublespeak”! The jail cost $134,000 per bed…not counting operating costs yet to come. Virginia has the largest incarceration rate on the planet. It’s time to find alternatives to jailing people for drug possesion and such. While I’m at it, the commissary is a big moneymaker…prisoners pay $1.05 for an 18 cent package of ramen noodles…and one dollar a day is taken out of their account,which penalizes… Read more »