New corrections center will soon open on the westside

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Photo courtesy of Franklin County
Visitors checking out the new James A. Karnes Correction Center on the westside look around one of the space pods. Each pod has built-in rooms for medical checks or other professional visitation and its own area for recreation.

The Franklin County Commissioners and Sheriff dedicated the new James A. Karnes Corrections Center at 2551 Fisher Road on the westside. The new facility is scheduled to open later this year and will replace the county’s downtown jail, which was built in the 1960s. It provides 864 beds, and a second phase of the new jail will open next year with an additional 426 beds.

“This jail is a legacy project and one that will serve our community for many years to come,” said board of commissioners president, Erica Crawley. “And the way that it can do that most effectively is by providing mental health services, job training and other educational programing so that our neighbors in the jail are able to find success when they become our neighbors outside of the jail.”

The county team responsible for planning to replace the county’s jail facilities partnered with the National Institute of Corrections and traveled the nation to visit the country’s most progressive and successful jails. The James A. Karnes Corrections Center combines all the best features in use around the country including mental health and detoxification centers, accommodations for virtual visitation, natural lighting for both inmates and deputies, and training and programming space to help prepare inmates for their return to the community.

“If you want to know how a community regards its people, you don’t have to look any farther than its jail,” said commissioner John O’Grady. “And with the new James A. Karnes Corrections Center, we’ve finally got a jail facility that’s worthy of our community and its residents.”

The new facility is designed to accommodate a new model of corrections focused on Strategic Inmate Management and Direct Supervision. It’s a model in which deputies share space in pods with the incarcerated persons they’re supervising. Each pod has built-in rooms for medical checks or other professional visitation and its own area for recreation. The space will allow for increase programing, training, and education to prepare the inmates for success when they return to the community, and the updated philosophy has been shown to make jails safer for both inmates and staff.

“It’s not just a jail, it’s an investment in rehabilitation,” said commissioner Kevin Boyce. “Bettering this infrastructure first helps support those in a crisis situation, it then reduces recidivism and generates positive long-term outcomes.”

Jim Karnes was the longest-serving sheriff of Franklin County, capping off a 48-year career in law enforcement. Karnes first joined the sheriff’s office as a deputy in the corrections division in 1963, and served as sheriff from 1992 until his death in 2011.

“We know that today’s inmate is tomorrow’s neighbor,” said Sheriff Dallas Baldwin. “The vast majority of people who enter our doors will leave the facility in a few days. The sheriff’s office is committed to helping those individuals start down a better path in the sincere hope they won’t come back to jail.”

The James A. Karnes Corrections Center encompasses nearly 430,000 square feet and cost about $360 million to build. The facility includes enough concrete to build a sidewalk from Columbus to Dayton, more than two miles of plumbing, and its roof covers approximately four acres.

To learn more about Franklin County’s jail facilities, visit sheriff.franklincountyohio.gov.

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