New jail addition gets support of county board

Robert Blackford/Editor

The Mercer County Board voted 10-0 to approve the Public Building Commission's pursuance of 20-year revenue bonds for the jail expansion project. This will allow the Mercer County Jail to expand to hold an additional 60 inmates.

Mercer County Board Chairman Tom Harris said the extra revenue generated from the additional inmates that will be housed in the facility will be put toward paying off the bonds. At 40 additional inmates Harris said the addition will be paid for in a little more than 11 years. Harris said, "These are revenue bonds not general obligation bonds."

Mercer County Sheriff Tom Thompson said, "It will be a lot more work for me and the corrections staff. In the small scope it's a lot more work. The money goes into the general fund. In the big picture this can mean added revenue for the county. The county has been looking for ways to add additional revenue."

Thompson said this has been talked about for awhile and the last study showed that the money is there. Thompson said the jail's expansion would mean four additional correctional staff jobs as well as more transports for the department and a lot more planning to get inmates to Rock Island, Davenport or Peoria.

"It will be up to the Public Building Commission to get an architect." "We'll probably visit some new jails to get some ideas. We kind of know what we want."

Thompson said the Mercer County Jail has been housing federal inmates for about 10 years and the number of federal inmates that are being held there is steadily increasing. "We are averaging about 25," said Thompson.