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Will Wayne County’s Jail Project Get The Death Penalty?

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DETROIT (WWJ) – Will Wayne County bail on its half-finished new jail?

Potential cost overruns, lack of financing and a state jail, are all reasons why the $200 million project might get the death penalty.

Wayne County is about $100,000 million into the project — but the Detroit News is reporting that cost overruns of nearly $65 million are threatening to scrap plans to finish construction of the planned $2,000-plus bed jail.

The Wayne County commission authorized up to $300 million in bonds for the project, but the News reports state has no confidence that the county, with a $125 million budget deficit, can repay that much.

WWJ’s Charlie Langton is reporting that what’s making the decision a little easier is that the state is offering to give Wayne County it’s abandoned Mound Correctional Facility.

“Now, two years ago, the state offered up its Mound facility for a payment of a million-and-a-half dollars, but Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano tuned it town and began construction on the new jail,” Langton said. “Some say the county could have saved $100 million.”

County commissioner Laura Cox is frustrated.

“It makes me want to stand up on the table and jump up and down and scream,” she told Langton. “I mean, what are we doing with the taxpayers’ money?”

“Stop building! Are was spending money that’s we’re going to bail on? Like, why are we continuing to build a jail that we might bail on in, you know, a matter of months? I don’t understand that logic at all,” Cox added.

The full county board will meet on Thursday.

Touting the project last fall, Ficano said the new jail was supposed to save the county $20 million a year, when it opened in 2014, consolidating three county jail facilities.  But Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon expressed concerns that it wouldn’t be big enough.

This latest come after Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, in April, announced the city was working with the state to open the shuttered Mound Correctional Facility as a temporary detention center for anyone arrested in the city.

Bing said five police lockups would close and that the Mound facility would  hold up to 200 people.

If Wayne County were to accept the state’s latest offer, the hope is the Mound facility could be renovated and expanded for much less than it’s costing to finish the new jail –  allowing the county to stay within the $200 million bond issue it sold to fund the project.

Mound Correctional closed as a state prion in January, 2012, due to high operational costs and declining prison population.

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