Bay County Jail has new project in the works

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 9:20 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Bay County Jail will soon be expanding.

County commissioners accepted a grant from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to help fund construction of a new dormitory at Tuesday’s meeting.

The dorm will house inmates in the Lifeline Program.

It’s a program for those dealing with substance abuse.

“It’s our hope that we’ll be able to provide help to people who are addicted to these substances so when they get out, they don’t ever come back,” said Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford.

County commissioners said the dorm will give them a new environment to focus and improve on their goals.

“These are going to be people who are inside the jail who are not as violent or they’re on a minor offense, so to get them out of general population and into something that is good at working to reduce recidivism and giving them a program, giving them a process to improve,” said Bay County Commissioner Doug Moore.

The new dorm will also help with the jail’s overcrowding problem.

“One, it will help us with our bed space in the jail,” Ford said. “We’ve got quite a few inmates in the jail and so this will allow us to increase the overall bed space in the jail as well as provide additional rehabilitation to inmates.”

The process of getting the money for the expansion project didn’t happen overnight, though.

“We went through the legislature for funding,” Ford said. “We worked with Rep. Trumbull and Sen. Gainer. The governor signed off on the legislation of $1.5 million along with some matching funds primarily from the opioid settlement.”

County officials said they plan to use another $1.5 million from the opioid settlement for the remainder of the project.

The dorm will house between 100 and 120 inmates.

Bay County officials said the design phase of the jail expansion project will start over the next six weeks.

Construction is expected to start in about a year.

It will take roughly another year to complete.

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