EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (KMOX) – Madison County board members will decide tonight whether to spend $18 million to renovate the nearly 40-year-old county jail, despite calls by some to give voters the final say.
The county board will vote on a proposal to issue bonds to pay for the improvements which would include a sprinkler system, electrical and plumbing upgrades, and an expanded cafeteria.
Board Chairman Alan Dunston argues that it is something which simply has to be done but would be a tough sell to the public.
“We have an antiquated building that we need to get fixed. If it went to the voters, I honestly don’t think it would pass so if you think the project’s worthwhile, I mean, we just have to do it,” Dunston said. “It would be different if we were trying to build a new jail, we’re not doing that, or building a new school. I think it would be a hard sell to the public to try to get votes in an open vote.”
Dunston says the jail, which was designed to hold 100 inmates and now holds 300, is still passing state inspections but may not in upcoming years without the improvements.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen when the state comes down and they start mandating you to fix some things that are not adequate now,” he said. “Sooner or later they’re going to come in and tell you you have to have a sprinkler system.”