Richmond breaks ground on new jail

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond's controversial jail project is moving forward. The city broke ground on the new, 135 million dollar facility this afternoon.

For the first time in more than 50 years- Richmond will have a new jail. The mayor campaigned on a new facility, but this has not been a popular issue- or an easy one to push through.

After a year of struggles and hurdles to get approval from city hall. Richmond is digging in for a new jail.

"It's been a long struggle. There's been a lot of sensationalism, but that's democracy. I'm not angry or upset with anyone. I'm a keep on pushing forward," said Sheriff C.T. Woody.

No one really wanted to build it-

"Given the choice for things that I would have like to have done this would not be at the top of the list," Mayor Dwight Jones said.

But there also wasn't much debate a new jail was needed either. Just show up in August and the giant fans tell you all you need to know. The building is inhumane. There's no ac and it's not aging well. It's tough not only on the inmates, but also the guards who work here- and the attorneys who visit.

"It is an issue I did fight for because I recognized and I know you recognized it's the right thing to do," said Jones.

This is the plan- a six story building next to the current facility. It will house 1,032 inmates- and include room for new programs that are alternatives to locking someone up.

"I want to see the numbers shrink. I want to see more people in school, than are in our jails," said Woody.

"We are not building a jail to continue mass incarceration in the City of Richmond," City Council Vice President Ellen Robertson added.

Construction is expected to take about two years to complete. The jail should open in the winter of 2014.

The state is expected to reimburse the city for 25% of the cost of the jail. That's about 30 million dollars.

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