New jail for Shelby County? - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Brooke Sanders

New jail for Shelby County?

Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell will present a proposal to county commissioners asking for a new jail.

The report commissioned by Luttrell says the county must make some major changes when it comes to the jail or suffer major consequences later. It calls for the county to either build a new $480 million jail downtown or expand the current correction center at Mullins Station Rd. for $180 million.

The study also recommends screening and diversion programs to reduce the number of inmates, which could save the county $6.4 million dollars.

Shelby Co. Commissioner Mark Ritz prefers the idea of expanding existing facilities.

"I don't think we need to build a new jail. The sheriff, I don't think, wants to get rid of the old jail," said Ritz. "I think we can fix up the main jail and start using some, over a period of time, a couple of years...start using some of the buildings out at the correction center."

Financial constraints, however, could prevent the county from implementing any of these suggestions for at least two years.

Commissioners already made some sacrifices -- include implementing a hiring freeze and offering buyouts to other county employees -- in order to balance this year's budget without raising taxes.

The full commission could make some amendments to that budget Wednesday. Stay tuned to Action News 5 for the latest developments.

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