CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – Cape May County Sheriff Gary Schaffer, along with Warden Don Lombardo and Facilities and Services Director, Ann Marie McMahon, made a presentation to the Board of Chosen Freeholders during the October 12th caucus to outline the construction phases of the new corrections facility.
Built in 1976 to house 169 inmates, and later reconfigured to house 188 inmates, still left the jail with an escalating overcrowding situation. New standards implemented over the years have resulted in expensive upgrades that only met some of the mandates of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC). Failed inspections conducted by the NJDOC over the past ten years and temporary extensions prompted the need for the County to take corrective actions or face costly consequences.
Options were explored by the construction committee to determine the best course of action to meet the NJDOC mandates. Reviews of architect plans, input from Freeholders, County Officials, and industry professionals along with a cost analysis comparing all options were conducted starting in 2008. Criminal Justice Reform to be implemented in January 2017, has added new mandates and costs to municipal and county court systems and will impact all correction facilities in
Four Options were presented that included; Option One - closing the jail and paying to house inmates and pay medical costs in other facilities. This option was not recommended since it would incur additional costs in the range of $12 million annually for housing and transporting inmates. Based on information from Gloucester County, there are additional costs associated with maintaining the existing facility to hold inmates until they are processed.
Option Two – Rehabbing the existing facility and adding space to meet the NJDOC housing mandates. The facility would still be operating with an aging and non-energy efficient HVAC system and a deteriorating infrastructure requiring costly repairs. There would also be additional costs to move inmates during the rehabilitation process. The estimated costs for this option came in at $29,485,937.
Option Three – Regionalization, a study is currently being conducted to evaluate regionalizing county jails in New Jersey. However, the study is ongoing and the results are not available. It is anticipated that depending on the results, it would potentially take seven to nine years to determine costs per county, decide on a central location and construction time for completion of the facility. Additional cost considerations would be transporting inmates to the regional facility.
Option Four – Building a new facility that meets NJDOC mandates and reduces maintenance cost and provides tighter security was scrutinized by the committee, it was decided this was the most cost effective option. Based on costs, need, and safety, the decision was made to build a new 85,000 SF bare bone facility at a total cost of $37,352,000.
After the presentation, Freeholder Director Gerald M. Thornton said, “The decision to build the new facility was not made without careful consideration of costs and safety. The new jail will meet all the current NJDOC mandates and will meet the needs of the County well into the future. The new design will result in no increase in taxes, a substantial savings in operating costs and more importantly improve the safety of the corrections officers and support staff.”