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New correctional institute construction underway in Hall

POSTED: April 22, 2014 12:24 a.m.

Construction has started on the Hall County Correctional Institute.

The building will replace the 50-year-old Barber Road structure, sitting a stone’s throw from where low-level state prisoners are now housed.

The old building has seen better days, Warden Walt Davis said, leading to the determination a new building would be more cost-effective than renovation.

“They started construction about the second week of April, and we began by surveying the area, and they’re grading right now,” Davis said. “We’re doing site prep work, which is going to be involving a lot of removal of dirt and grading the area.”

County officials approved the project in January after briefly considering the newly available downtown detention center in Gainesville, which was previously occupied by the Corrections Corp. of America. They ultimately decided to move forward with plans to construct a new facility next door to the 1694 Barber Road building, at a price between $3 million and $4 million.

To keep costs down, Davis said inmate labor from the correctional institute is contributing to construction, and noted the facility would continue to provide work details for the county.

“The entire crew that is on the grading crew, seven inmates, are from the C.I.,” Davis said. “They’re state inmates, an inmate grading crew, so there’s very little labor involvement as far as the labor costs, except for the supervisor, or the equipment, but the labor to run the equipment is free.”

Davis said grading will likely take about six weeks, then crews will begin laying out the building’s foundation.

Funds for the building are coming from special purpose local option sales tax VI, which started in July 2009 and runs until June 2015.

Ken Rearden, Hall County Public Works and Utilities director, said the county has $3 million budgeted and is seeking state money to supplement funding.

Although the new facility will cost millions to build, it also will house a re-entry program that should benefit taxpayers, Davis said.

The Hall County Re-entry Accountability Court Transition program began in March with 10 participants. Since then, five more have entered the program and the new building will be key for full implementation of 50 to 75 participants, Davis said.

The education, rehabilitation and workforce development program is seeking to reduce reoffending and the subsequent costs to the criminal justice system and society.


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