With One Jail Unfinished, Detroit Judge Says Old Jail Must Be Fixed


Just as Detroit’s Wayne County is trying to figure out what to do with the shell of an unfinished jail costing the public more than $1 million a month, taxpayers can expect to be on the hook for even more money to fix current jail facilities under a judge’s order, the Detroit Free Press reports. There’s a crumbling kitchen floor that cannot be cleaned to prevent insect and rodent infestations. Drain fly larvae and “organic matter” infest inmate showers, where 20 inmates share a shower the size of a phone booth. There are non-functioning elevators and cooling problems in the summer.

That’s the picture Wayne County Judge Timothy Kenny paints of conditions and management at the jails. The culprit, at least in part, is the lack of jail maintenance, which stopped after officials decided in 2011 to build the new jail, which is now a boondoggle draining the county of $1.4 million each month in interest and storage fees, on top of the estimated $175 million already spent with no completion date in sight. Kenny’s order stems from a lengthy legal case and consent order from 2005 that has been modified a number of times to cover staffing and other issues at the county’s jails.

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