November 26, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain jail may open in November

City accepts bids for new holding facility

LORAIN — Work on renovating Lorain’s jail is expected to begin later this month and to be completed by early November.
Bids on the project were accepted from four companies Monday, and contracts are expected to be signed by the end of next week, said Rey Carrion, construction administrator for the city. The total project will cost $385,000.
The 12-day holding facility  on the third floor of City Hall will hold 34 people, Carrion said. The facility will replace the old city jail that closed in 2002.
Lorain police Lt. Jim McCann said the jail can’t get here soon enough because the jobs of Lorain police officers have been difficult without one.
“I guess the first thing is that our hands will no longer be tied,” he said. “If I go to a house and two people are fighting, right now all I can do is tell one of them to leave and give people tickets. Now I can take away the aggressor and let people calm down so they don’t kill each other.”
With the county jail so crowded, it always was difficult to take people there for misdemeanor offenses, like bar fights or petty theft. Criminals eventually caught wind of that fact and used to laugh at the police, McCann said.
“It got to a point where people were saying, ‘All you can do is give me a ticket,’ ” McCann said. “They knew this game was here, and they knew we couldn’t take them to jail.”
The city closed the original 30-day holding facility in early 2002 because it couldn’t afford to keep up with new state requirements enacted for a facility of that type, including nurses and a recreational facility. The new facility does not have those requirements, but at least six guards will have to be hired to maintain it, Safety Service Director Mike Kobylka said.
Council will have to appropriate money for the jail expenses before it opens, he said. Kobylka said he hopes eventually that people will stop committing so many crimes because they understand there are now repercussions, and he said the spare jail space can be leased out to other cities.
“I’m hoping it becomes a revenue source for the city, eventually,” Kobylka said. “Because of the overcrowding at the county jail, other cities have a real need for a facility like this.”
At the very least, Lorain will benefit from having its own jail.
“I’m happy to see that Lorain is reopening its jail,” he said. “A city the size of Lorain is in need of this type of facility to maintain law and order.”
Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or awright@chroniclet.com.