Duval County

Reports details issues with Duval County Jail, explains how relocation could help

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A new Duval County jail could be built within the next few years. A new report found the issues with the sheriff’s office’s current facilities and provided suggestions moving forward.

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The report took over 7 months to complete, and Jacksonville’s City Council president said it’s a great first step in the right direction into potentially moving the jail.

The Duval County Jail is described as prime real estate by many, and City Council President Ron Salem had a special committee look into the sheriff’s office’s facilities.

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The draft report mentions how JSO’s employees struggle with unfavorable conditions and lack of space at both the jail and the Police Memorial Building.

Some JSO employees relocated to Florida Blue, which helps them.

At the jail, the report said it’s holding about 400 inmates more than it’s designed to carry, saying they’ve had to add portable beds to cells and in common areas. The city has spent roughly $12 million on maintenance in the last 5 years to help fix the issues but said there’s still mold, plumbing leaks and other issues.

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Jacksonville Sheriff TK Waters said flooding is also a problem.

“The equipment, doors, electronics, elevators ... Those are all issues costing dollars. We’d like to get away from here, and also with the property, I think there’s a major benefit for private business,” the sheriff said.

The committee looked at other facilities that have modern elements to help mental health, which is something the report said the jail has trouble handling.

The city paid UF Health over $13 million from 2022 to 2023 to treat inmates, which is a 30% increase from 2017 to 2018.

Read: Family files lawsuit against Columbia County Sheriff’s Office after inmate dies in custody

The report also mentions how the jail lacks an on-site infirmary, which is something Action News Jax’s Ben Ryan asked the sheriff about.

“It does [have an infirmary]. There’s a place for medical, but it’s quickly getting to the point where it’s insufficient, so we need a place for a dedicated sport for that ... dedicated for mental health intake,” Sheriff Waters explained.

With a costly stadium deal looming, Council President Salem said that if it’s as good as promised, it would “take a lot of the pressure off our finances. It would be cash up-front to pay for it, and we could maybe afford a major structure like the jail.”

The report said a new jail is still at least 5 years out if it were to be built, and the next steps in the report talk about coming up with a design, generating a cost estimate and establishing a time frame.

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