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EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: First look inside new Kalamazoo County Jail

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KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- Kalamazoo County’s Brand new Jail expansion is all closed up and ready for interior work over the winter months, as the 23-Million dollar project is set to be opened in phases next year.

     In an exclusive tour of the facility, still under construction, we get a first look, and probably the only look you will ever want to get of the ultra-modern pod-design.  

    Only two windows in the entire structure have bars. In their place is unbreakable glass that will permit guards from a central control station to view into practically every cell.

  One cell in each pod is designed to be handicap accessible.

    The pod cells, which are designed to house either 2 or 4 inmates, have their own toilets and showers, and each cell also has windows that view outside, but can’t be seen into from the outside.

  The new addition will effectively double the number of inmates the jail will hold, provide better kitchen and laundry facilities, and give them the room to conduct programs that keep inmates from becoming repeat offenders.

    One of the biggest improvements is a sizable a new medical facility with multiple beds, treatment rooms, a Skype room that will permit them to consult with doctors at area hospitals and a ventilation system that will allow them to pump the air from cells with contagious inmates out of the facility to reduce infections.  

   It will also have a receiving and booking area that is about ten times the size of the current facility, and will take a lot of pressure off the Jail.  Many people who get arrested may spend a night in a holding cell until a bond hearing or until they sober up.  This is especially true now that the cities of Kalamazoo and Portage have closed their jails.  This facility will manage those transient inmates, without having to admit them to the jail.

       It is still very much a prison.  It’s all steel, cement and glass with institutional colors and few of the comforts of home. The bunks are aluminum platforms with pads on them and there will be little or no privacy.

 It is designed to be able to perform more services for the inmates in-house, and to cut costs for the county, which currently has to rent cells in other county jails to handle the inmate population it currently maintains.

   The pods will be linked by video to area Courtrooms for the execution of some basic hearings, and to a visitation center that will be next to the jail, which will permit families to visit inmates via video link-up, eliminating the problem of contraband.  For a fee they can even be visited by Skype from anywhere in the world essentially.

   Sheriff Richard Fuller says the plan is to open the medical, receiving and booking areas and holding cells first next spring and phase in the pods as equipment is installed and new and current staff are trained. 

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