The installation of the new roof and restoration of the concrete surroundings are nearly complete at the New Albany-Floyd County Jail. Staff photo by Tyler Stewart
The installation of the new roof and restoration of the concrete surroundings are nearly complete at the New Albany-Floyd County Jail. Staff photo by Tyler Stewart
NEW ALBANY — The thought for the past 10 years has been that Floyd County will have to build a new jail .... sooner rather than later. The current structure, constructed in 1992, was built to handle 134 inmates, not 300, which is now the daily average.

But a new plan introduced by Sheriff Frank Loop may postpone that discussion for “15 to 20 years,” he said. The plan, which he credited Jail Commander David Furman and others for coming up with, would add 100 beds to the additional structure without breaking walls or ceilings.

Loop told the Floyd County Commissioners on Tuesday that a new jail would cost around $45 million. He said by adding 100 new beds, not only will it postpone the inevitable, but also it “will relieve overcrowding” in the jail.

However, there is a cost to the new plan. 

The jail is currently undergoing different phases of renovation. The first phase is a new roof, which is 80 percent complete. The next phase will include caulking windows and other outside work. The total cost of renovation work is around $6.7 million, money the Floyd County Commissioners and Council put aside from the sale of Floyd Memorial Hospital.

In order to complete the new plan introduced by Loop, another $5 million would be needed. But Loop said by paying now, the county will save millions down the road by not having to build a new jail.

The Floyd County Commissioners unanimously agreed and approved to move forward with the design and engineering phase of the plan, which could cost around $400,000, about the same as the price tag of the next phase of jail renovations. The council will take up the matter at its meeting next month. Once the new roof is installed, the current renovation work would be put on hold in order to complete the design and engineering work on the new plan.

Commissioner Mark Seabrook was concerned some of the work that had already been paid for and finished would have to be disturbed under the new plan. But Loop said that is not the case.

“I just don’t want to spend money twice,” Seabrook said.

The new plan would turn the current outdoor recreation area into a cell block. The indoor recreation area would be equipped with garage doors on the roof that could open and allow fresh air into the area. Loop said that would meet state mandates.

The current chapel would be turned into a new cell block, as well. The sheriff said the library could also be used as a chapel area.

“We won’t be losing anything except the outdoor recreation area,” he said.

A mezzanine would be added and new bunks with three beds instead of two would be used throughout the jail.

“The discussion here has always been where will we build a new jail. That discussion has been put off for at least 15 years [under the new plan],” Loop said.

The sheriff said inmates would not have to be moved to another jail during the renovation work, which will save the county money.

Loop credited his staff for the idea.

“I have good people working for me,” he said. “They came to me with this idea. We’re pretty excited about it.”

Seabrook said when he was a member of the New Albany City Council, there were always proposals floating around about where a new jail could be built — from Sam Peden Community Park to closing Scribner Drive and expanding the current facility. He likes the idea of not having to tear down any walls or roofs to make the new plan a reality.

“It makes a lot of sense to me,” he said.

Furman said the additional 100 beds will allow growth in the jail, including taking inmates from other counties, which could result in extra funds for Floyd County.

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