Some inmates at the Ocean County Jail got transferred to their new digs on Tuesday, as county corrections officers began moving them into the jail's new 140,000 square foot addition.
"Moving the inmates has been going smoothly," said Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety, in a statement. "Under the direction of Warden Ted Hutler and his staff, a plan was put into effect to begin to populate the new jail addition. We anticipate the move to be completed by week’s end."
The jail expansion includes, in addition to new cells, a medical facility, an intake and release center with a vehicle port, video visitation at the main entrance and staff support areas including a new main control area with advanced security features. Two weeks ago, a glitch in the new wing's video conferencing capability was blamed for inmates not yet being able to populate the area. Carl W. Block, Ocean County Administrator, said video visitation capabilities are one of the most important aspects of the new wing, and are expected to be installed within the month.
"It helps to substantially decrease the movement of inmates as videoconferencing will be used with visitors and some attorney visits," Block said. "At the request of the courts, we have integrated the jail videoconferencing with the court system, again providing greater efficiencies when it comes to safety and cost."
Kelly said Hutler recently performed an inspection of the facility and personally selected Oct. 4 as the opening date.
County officials said the new wing was designed to have a "civic courthouse appearance" and incorporates the scale and brick from the surrounding county government complex. The expansion included the construction of a four story new space at the rear of the Ocean County Justice Complex on Hooper Avenue and a two-story addition on the south side of the existing building. All inmate areas will remain within a maximum security perimeter. The cells, building structure and building enclosure are made of prefabricated precast concrete.
Inside, the new wing adds 472 new beds, making the jail able to house 756 inmates with the potential to house up to 864 inmates in the future with state approval. Hutler said the daily inmate population thus far in 2011 has been 565. Before the new wing was built, the jail was designed to hold up to 266 inmates.
The cost of the expansion totaled just under $55 million, Kelly said, and also required the county to hire 28 new corrections officers, bringing the total number of officers employed by the county to 194. Kelly said the expansion represents the largest public works project in county history.