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First phase of jail expansion finished
Correctional Facility superintendent Ron Sukert and Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict led county employees, elected officials and other participants in the expansion project on a tour of the new space.
The remodel is phase one of a five-phase plan to increase the size of the county jail as demand and funding justify.
It creates 30 new beds, several American with Disabilities Act compliant bathrooms and an entrance that makes the jail able to house medium-security prisoners.
The 30 beds are divided up with 24 beds going into a new chain gang housing area and six beds into a female housing area.
"As for the women's cell, we can also put in two more cots if the need arises. There is a lot of room in there," Sukert said standing outside the cell's grey, steel door. "Now we will be able to take some of the women out of cells that are in an area where mostly men are kept and move them over here, clearing out beds in that area."
Once officers select workers from a list of inmates willing to be on the chain gang, they are kept separate from the rest of the inmates.
"Because they have contact with the outside world, we really need to keep them in a separate part of the facility," Sukert said, adding that they are searched thoroughly when they come back from chain gang operations and his crew always takes a cautious approach.
The remodel not only installed beds for the work crew but also a common area, pay phones and a bathroom.
"After these rooms begin to be used, we will have 120 total beds with the ability to add a few more if crowding occurs, which is something I think will happen if trends continue upward like they have in recent years."
The remodeled space was a work release area. It was gutted and replaced with new, hardened materials.
"People are in here 24 hours a day and sometimes they get frustrated with the situation and try to tear things apart," Sukert said. "So we really kept that in mind setting all of this up. It is very strong."
The second phase of the jail's planned expansion mostly will be coordinating staff and services with the increased number of beds and jail space from the first phase.
The third phase of the jail's 10-year master plan is to demolish the north wing of the jail in order to build a new, two-story jail addition.
Phases four and five include remodeling office and administrative areas to create more cells and beds.
No time frame is set for the next phases, but they are planned if there continues to be a demand.
"The most significant thing about this expansion is that we did it out of pocket after thinking ahead and knowing that we would need to do something more with this facility," Sukert said. "We were very happy to be able to do this without bonds or asking for money from the public."
Inmates are expected to begin filling the area this week.