Lucas County Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to release a request for proposals to find a consulting company to determine whether or not a new facility is practical.
The Lucas County Corrections Center in downtown Toledo was built in 1977, since then it's faced problems such as overcrowding, leaking pipes and broken-down elevators.
Commissioners say they'd like to work on a quick deadline in finding a solution, hoping to have a consultant hired by June, and then have a feasibility study completed by October. They say time is of the essence when it comes to keeping workers safe - citing that the old facility is becoming obsolete.
"If we do not do this now, we doom ourselves to failure of this community of having those workers unsafe, of having the inmates at risk, and keep churning the same people over and over again," said Commissioner Pete Gerken.
"This is once in a generation opportunity for us," said Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp. "This will never happen again in our lifetime of talking about building a new jail. If we built one, we'd never build another jail. So we have to do it right the first time." Sheriff Tharp continued by expressing his hopes for a new building, saying he believed the county would be throwing "good money" into a bad situation by trying to improve the old downtown county jail.
Once a consulting company is hired, their feasibility studies would look at all aspects of a new jail including building location, services, and costs.