Three hundred cameras will watch inmates in the new Lancaster County jail.

The kitchen will be able to serve as many as 1,500 meals for people in the jail, juvenile detention and detox and the crisis center. The walk-in cooler is big enough to hold six cars.

Each of three halls that run east to west is nearly 750 feet long.

"This is the most complex and complicated building a county will ever build," Larry Dix, executive director of the Nebraska Association of County Officials, said after touring the jail being built near Southwest 40th and West O streets.

"I'm very impressed. I've seen numerous ones (jails) around the state, including those in Lincoln County and Saunders County," he said. "The size of this sets it apart -- the sheer numbers that will be here."

Dix said the jail will house more prisoners than the number of people who live in most cities and towns in Nebraska.

He called it a village under one roof.

"It's just incredible," Dix said.

The $65 million jail will have 779 beds and more than 289,000 square feet of space, including cells and dormitories, medical and mental health facilities, laundry, kitchen and recreation areas. 

The Lancaster County Board on Tuesday invited Dix, the Lincoln City Council and local judges to tour the jail, which County Corrections Director Mike Thurber said is 77 percent complete. 

The county broke ground on the jail July 14, 2009. It is set to be completed by Feb. 14.

Thurber said the county hopes to get the keys from general contractor Sampson Construction in March, when months of training and testing systems will begin. Prisoners should start arriving next fall, he said.

"Well, they made a lot of progress. It looks very secure," said City Council Chairman Gene Carroll.

"I'm really amazed," newly appointed Councilwoman DiAnna Schimek said midway through the tour. "It seems to me they thought through a lot of details for this place."

Councilman Carl Eskridge, deputy ombudsman for the state of Nebraska, said the new jail seems like a big prison.

"It's obviously state-of-the-art. It's just unfortunate that we have had to spend this kind of money on these things," Eskridge said.

County Board Chairwoman Deb Schorr said she is pleased with progress on the jail, which is on time and on budget.

Officials from Douglas and Sarpy counties have been invited to tour the new jail Nov. 3.

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Reach Algis J. Laukaitis at 402-473-7243 or alaukaitis@journalstar.com.


Load comments