MENLO — A meeting was held Tuesday night to give more information on a proposed new jail for Guthrie County.
The meeting was the first of 12 meeting to be held throughout Guthrie County to show people why a new jail is needed.
The Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office says there are a lot of issues with the current facility: overcrowding, poor ventilation and lighting.
They also say the jail will have to be shut down if it’s not fixed soon, as the building is not up to code.
In an exclusive interview with Local 5, the inmates themselves weighed in on the current conditions.
“Does it feel cramped in here? Oh yeah,” inmate Tom Douherty said. “You have to fight for a place to sleep some nights. The table is not even big enough to have all the people in this cell eat. And you eat right next to the shower — when your buddy is showering, you get to be right next to him when you eat your food.”
A new jail would cost an estimated $8.7 million, according to county officials. The referendum for a new facility was first proposed on Dec. 19, and a new referendum will be voted on on March 3.
“If you have some jail time to do for operating while intoxicated, you may go in with somebody that’s being held in there for felonies,” Sheriff Marty Arganbright said.
Arganbright said that’s not only unsafe, it’s against state code.
Which is why the county’s proposing a new jail, before this one gets shuts down.
The roomier facility would have secure entrances so inmates wouldn’t be walking right past the the staff anymore. With 28 beds and five separate units to classify offenders, it’ll give the inmates more privacy, safety and comfort.
Some people might say, well they’re in jail, why do they need to live in luxury? To which Douherty replied, “it’s not luxury, I mean look around it’s just nasty and grody.”
The $8.7 million price tag would be paid from tax payer dollars, so Local 5 showed some local taxpayers Tom’s conditions to see if they feel an additional $17 to $170 in annual property tax would be worth it.
“Yeah terrible, that’s pretty old fashioned I mean I think it’s pretty, pretty bad,” Dean from Stuart said.
“That’s, that’s crazy,” Nathan from Stuart said. “Yeah even though they made a mistake they can stay healthy. So when they can get out of jail, hopefully they can be a productive member of society.”
If enough people think it’s a good deal come March, Sheriff Marty said he’ll be able to better protect the people of Guthrie County both inside the jail and out.
Thursday, Sheriff Marty will have a public meeting in Stuart to answer questions about the jail. It’ll be the second of 12 public meetings before the vote.
For more information about the proposed jail or when informational meetings will be held click here.