Plan approved for Richmond City Jail

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Plans for a new Richmond City Jail made it over a giant hurdle Wednesday. The State Board of Corrections unanimously approved the $130 million plan to revamp the city's aging facility.

The complete jail will cost about $134 million. Roughly $30 million of that will come from state funding. The rest will be paid for using tax payer dollars.

It's a project that city leaders say has been a long time coming and one that couldn't wait any longer.

"Poor conditions in the jail are not just bad for the prisoners in the jail, but also for the people that work there," said Kathy Graziano, President of the Richmond City Council.

"We still have a lot of work to do but this is the first step of a thousand mile journey," added Sheriff CT Woody.

Sheriff CT Woody says work on the newly approved jail will begin as early as 2012. A new 6-story building will be built behind the current jail and part of the exiting structure will be renovated too.

The Sheriff says the finished facility could hold up to 1,600 or 1,700 inmates.

"We needed a better place, a bigger place," said Woody. "It's gotta be a win-win-win situation all around for the city of Richmond and I am extremely proud".

Mayor Dwight Jones issued a statement:

Richmond, VA – Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement regarding the State Board of Corrections unanimous vote approving the City's amendments to the 2009 Community Based Corrections Plan and Planning Study. The Board of Corrections also approved reimbursement funding of 25% from the Commonwealth of Virginia for all eligible costs relating to the construction of the new Justice Center in the city of Richmond.

"I thank the Board of Corrections for this unanimous vote today. I have fought hard to reach this point where we can move forward with the construction of our new Justice Center. I want to thank Sheriff C. T. Woody and those members of Richmond City Council that have stood with us. We are especially pleased that our dedicated law enforcement officers, social workers, clergy, attorneys, prisoners and their families will now have more humane conditions in the very near future. 

"We've made the necessary adjustments to our plans and it is now clear that our plans meet all compliance and safety standards. Today's unanimous vote ensures that we can now move forward with this important project quickly and that the new Justice Center will become a reality.   

"I've kept my promise in that I did not want to build an institution that simply encouraged us to keep warehousing people. The plans that were approved today reflect my commitment and vision of enhanced alternatives to incarceration while at the same time addressing the needs of those being housed at the jail.

"I want to thank everyone that has joined in our vision for a humane facility. We've been struggling with the need for a new jail for more than a decade. With the Board's vote today, we can stop talking and start building."

Officials say site preparation could begin as early as January. Construction could start in April.

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