This is the second article detailing the new Fayette County Law Enforcement Complex. The first article is titled, “Behind the scenes at the new jail,” and can be found at www.recordherald.com.
While incarcerated individuals have not been moved in yet, the new Fayette County law enforcement complex is nearing completion. The facility is on Robinson Road and includes an administrative area, a 911 call center, and a detention area.
The legislation allowing the funding for the new complex was passed during the May 7, 2019 special election by a 1,378-1,129 margin. The levy contained two parts — one to fund the construction and one to fund the operation of the new facility. As previously reported, the funding for the jail was a 40-year, $21,002,594 loan with a 3.5% interest rate. Following the passage, construction of the facility began in June of 2019.
Upon entering the main parking lot of the complex from Robinson Road, there are two buildings connected via a garage. To the left of the garage door (facing the buildings) is the administrative side of the complex while the right side is the jail.
The garage in the middle of the two buildings is the exit of the Sally Port.
A Sally Port, according to Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, is an enclosed area where individuals can be brought in by deputies. The entrance of the Sally Port is connected to the back parking lot away from the public.
Upon entering the Sally Port, deputies can park their vehicles to take an individual directly into the detention facility to the booking station, so a person can be processed, fingerprinted and/or held temporarily if they will not be staying in the jail long-term.
Also in the immediate vicinity is a “drunk tank” that can be used if necessary. A drunk tank is a small room that is easy to clean that a person can remain in until sober.
Those who are staying long-term in the jail can be escorted to the appropriate cell.
Basically, the jail itself is built around a circular control room in a pie-like shape. The majority of walls are one-way glass. With this design, the deputy within the control room and the deputy patrolling the floor around the control room can easily see into every cell and nearly every room within the detention facility. While deputies can see in, inmates cannot see out.
Each cell is an open floor plan with a specific number of bunk-beds, tables that seat six with built-in stools, a legally-required number of toilets and showers per inmate, phones and kiosks. The number of beds equal the number of seats, per law, and will allow inmates to eat in their cells; they do not have to be transported elsewhere to eat.
The purpose of the phones is for scheduled visitations — inmates will have a specific code to punch in to access their minutes for calls.
The purpose of the kiosks is to allow for scheduled digital visitations. Just as phone conversations are limited, digital visitations will also be limited, according to jail administrator Matt Weidman.
Weidman explained the kiosks will also allow the inmates to purchase commissary (basically an online store for jails) using funds from their individual books, respond to jail staff, and use a law library.
The jail can hold 120 prisoners. While the majority of cells can hold up to 12 people, there is one cell that can hold 24 and a “medical” cell that can individually hold inmates.
The medical cell allows for the prisoners to be in isolation with a bed, toilet and sink without free access to the cell’s common area. Isolation can be used for those exhibiting bad behavior or medical concerns. One of the isolation rooms is handicap-accessible.
Two of the general cells are in a more secluded area of the jail for female inmates as females and males have to be kept separate by law. According to Stanforth, male and female inmates should not be able to hear one another.
Two “honor dorms (cells)” exist which will be used for both the work-release program and rehab program. The plan is for one of the dorms to be used for females and the other for males.
The work-release program is court-ordered and allows those being incarcerated to keep their jobs. This type of program is useful in such situations as being imprisoned for back child support, according to Stanforth. The individual would leave the jail long enough to work, then return.
The rehab program will include treatments, counselors, and programming. Those who do well and complete the program can then graduate to the honor dorm. While the honor dorms are the same as the other cells, they are a bit more separate from other inmates.
Stanforth explained it is hoped that if incarcerated individuals are brought in for drug charges but successfully complete the program, courts can decide to alter their jail time or probation terms.
All dorms are gender-neutral, so if there are more prisoners of one gender than another, there can be some flexibility in where and how they are housed in the jail.
An outdoor area has been designed into the jail that has a mesh roof and will have a bench or two for sitting. According to Stanforth, the law requires a space to be provided for fresh air and a view of the sky. The way this outdoor location was designed makes it so the sky can be seen, fresh air or weather can be experienced, but there are no views outside the prison walls — meaning inmates cannot see outside the jail and the public will not be able to see the inmates in this location.
The majority of the public will have no reason to be in the detention facility and will be unable to access the areas that have been described so far, according to Stanforth.
When the public first enters the detention facility from the main parking lot, there is a small entry room with a machine. The machine allows members of the public to place money on the books for a specific inmate and will be accessible 24 hours, 7 days a week.
“(The money) will automatically go on the books. We never see the money,” said Stanforth.
The next room allows access to the visitation center on the right and a service window to the left. This is the area the public will enter when they need services such as background checks, Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW), or to make a scheduled visit.
The visitation center will allow both digital and in-person visitations. In-person visitations will only be available at specific times. It is set up along one side of the room with built-in stools and is planned to have panes of glass between the visiting public and incarcerated individuals so there can be no physical contact. A phone between the visiting pair will allow private conversations, although those conversations will be recorded for security.
The opposite wall contains a row of built-in stools and screens for digital visitations. Although digital visitations also need to be scheduled, they have a greater availability as the incarcerated person being visited can connect directly from the jail cells. Essentially, this means inmates do not need to be moved around for the digital visitation to occur.
Currently, digital visitations are already in use, but having screens inside the detention facility simply allows members of the public who do not have access to internet and/or equipment to still take part.
Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian in order to enter the detention facility — even for digital visitation.
There are several security precautions throughout the facility to keep both staff and inmates safe and accountable.
On top of the camera system covering the majority of the complex, doors throughout the detention facility must be opened and/or closed from the control room, there are system-controlled fire doors so inmates can be safely evacuated in an emergency, and if there is a door leading outside the facility, there is a small entry with a second door — if one door is open, the second door will not open until the first has been shut and locked. All doors have key overrides which are only accessible by specific personnel .
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.