View Full Version : sso jail renovation

12-19-2007, 04:22 PM
SARASOTA - In this tight economy, Sarasota County commissioners approve a $3 million renovation for the county jail. The money will go to renovate the Sally Port - the intake area and the booking area at the county jail in downtown Sarasota. Officials say it's necessary for public safety.

Your first question is probably where'd this money come from? Didn't we just hear the sheriff warn that funds were so short he might have to close the South County Jail? Commissioners say it's available because it was set aside for this project more than 2 years ago. Today it got final approval and work will begin soon.

When the door closes behind a prisoner, he's about to be booked into the Sarasota County Jail. It's called the Sally Port, and often there's a long line of patrol cars lined up there. "The cars do sometimes get backed up. This Sally Port can only accomplish 2 at a time. The new Sally Port will be able to accommodate 4 times that number. So it'll be a lot more efficient and a lot safer," says Major Darrell Stinger from the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

The reason for the crunch: when the jail was built in 1975, about 4,000 prisoners a year were jailed. Today there are 20,000 a year. And officials say booking facilities are also inadequate and will be renovated. "It will be an open area...all in one area."

The new Sally Port will extend all the way to Ringling Boulevard, and a new sidewalk will be built around it.

But it'll take 12 to 15 months to complete the project. During construction, no inmates will be brought thru here to the jail.

"This is where the vehicles with inmates will come in, between the old Courthouse and the jail. There will be a fenced off area here."

They say it'll be makeshift for a while, but when it's finished Sarasota County Prison Facility will be safer, and booking will be much faster and more efficient.