County approves Shelby County Jail expansion

Published 4:26 pm Friday, August 18, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer 

COLUMBIANA – The Shelby County Commission has approved an expansion to the Shelby County Jail that will bring additional capacity as well as improvements to medical and mental health services.

The Shelby County Commission approved a bid to Clements Dean Building Company, LLC  to expand the Shelby County Jail in the amount of $24,820,000 during a regularly scheduled commission meeting on Monday, Aug. 14.

“I’ve got to thank the commission for listening to us and our needs as the jail approaches its 20th year,” Sheriff John Samaniego said. “A lot has gone on with our inmate population since then and we definitely need the expansion.”

The expansion will bring a new segregation unit as well as a specialized medical health unit.

“The medical and mental health component of the jail and adding new segregation capacity and a totally new mental health unit department just creates a safer workflow for the whole operation,” Chief Facilities Management Officer Trey Gauntt said.

The medical renovations are planned to add 15 new beds bringing the total medical capacity to 23 and the new mental health unit will have 18 beds with support space. The new segregation unit will have 24 beds and support space.

The expansion will also bring a complete retooling of the entire building and bring its technology up to modern standards.

“It also modernizes all the central controls systems and security features inside the existing jail,” Gauntt said. “It’s over 20 years old and it has become outdated and hard to find parts for as things go out. So, this project will also address some of those needs.”

Renovations will include central controls modernizations and IT and security system modernizations.

“It makes us more efficient,” Samaniego said. “We’re going to have areas that are specifically designed to take care of certain inmates. It’ll be better for the inmate, better for the efficiency of the jail and all-around great.”

Samaniego explained the difficulties with the jail’s current setup and the alleviation that the new project will bring.

“Supplying more room for our health vendor, that we have under contract to treat the needs of all the inmates, is going to be very good,” he said. “Right now, we do the best we can, but we have to have certain blocks set out for special needs or even special medical needs because we might have our entire medical wing full.”

Gauntt shared that the expansion is planned to begin sometime in the fall with a 14-month construction period.

The bid for the project was awarded by the commission to the lowest responsive bidder, Clements Dean Building Company, who has done previous work on many projects in the county, including Alabaster’s Patriots Park and The American Village’s Independence Hall.

“We’re pleased too that we’ve been able to award the job to Clements Dean Building out of Wilsonville, here in our county,” Gauntt said. “We’ve had really good success with Clements Dean.”

An additional expansion is planned for the Shelby County Jail for the future which will include a “pod” which will increase the jail’s housing capacity. A bid for the pod was released but came over budget and Samaniego and the county decided it was the best call to focus on current critical need.

“This current expansion is going to take approximately two years and I think we’ll be okay with whatever growth we do in that two-year period,” Samaniego said. “After we complete this, we’re going to look at possibly rebidding for that new pod.”