Local inmates transferred to new jail cells

Published 8:00 am Friday, September 14, 2018

Prisoners moved into recently opened Polk Law Enforcement Center

COLUMBUS — Polk County’s new law enforcement is now complete, with officers transferring local inmates to the facility late last week.

The inmates were scheduled to be transferred to the new facility, which opened in July, at the first of August, but the transfer was delayed.

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The building did have some leaks, said Polk County Manager Marche Pittman, but the delay of the inmates’ transfer was because of safety, software and security on the doors at the new facility.

“We had some problems right after we took it over with water, but the roofing company came in and made repairs,” Pittman said about the leaks.

Polk County began construction on the new jail and sheriff’s office in December 2016. Plans were for the facility to be complete by December 2017, but weather delayed the project.

The new law enforcement center, located off Highway 108 just outside Columbus adjacent to Milliken, replaces the current jail, constructed in the early 1970s.

The new law enforcement center is much larger, with more than double the amount of inmate beds. The former jail housed 25 inmates, and only males, while the new jail can house 60 inmates, including males, females and juveniles.

The former jail had faced many issues for years, including mold and leaks from inmate showers and toilets.

Polk County took out a $13.5 million loan to construct the new law enforcement center. The loan is being paid for through a 2-cent tax increase, enacted last year.

The county did not raise taxes last year or this year to pay for the new law enforcement center. Polk County purchased just over 21 acres of land to construct the new law enforcement facility, with plans in the future to possibly also house a new courthouse and county government buildings when needed.

Polk County Commissioners have not yet discussed what to do with the old jail building.

Pittman said the county is trying to figure out a good use for the facility, including the possibility of renovating and reallocating the building for another county use.