CLINTON — The new Clinton County Jail will offer improved safety for both inmates and jail staff, according to Clinton County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Steve Diesch.

A grand opening was held Thursday for the new Clinton County Law Center. Diesch said the old facility had 16 cameras, while the new facility has 144 cameras. He added the new jail is a pod design, versus the linear design in the old facility. The new facility includes a control room, where one member of jail staff will run the whole campus. Diesch said the control room will be manned with one person 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“We have nine pods here in our new facility and they can walk around and look in each pod to see what’s going on,” Diesch said. “These big screen monitors up here will also have cameras that will show what’s going on in each pod. So if there’s a fight or something we can take a quick scan to see which pod it is and then send help in the correct direction.”

Diesch said that in the new facility, inmates at first will be allowed to self-escort themselves to other areas of the jail, such as to the attorney room or exercise yard. Diesch said if a person was going from a pod to the exercise yard, they would open their door and let them into the jail hub. He said when that door closes the exercise yard door would open, with no hands-on movement by jail staff. Diesch said jail staff currently have to move people from place to place.

“We’re going to try that,” Diesch said. “That is a new thing for the inmates over there, I know. That’ll be new for them. That’ll be new for us. If they can move themselves we won’t have to add more staff so we’re hoping that it’ll work out. And in all actuality if they don’t want to move they’re isolated to that hallway. We can go in and escort them at that time. So we’re going to give it a shot and see how it goes. If it doesn’t work out, well then eventually we may have to add more staff. But everybody’s trying to do more with less and we’re going to start out doing that. We’ve got a lot of good security stuff. We’ve got a lot of cameras. So I’m hoping that we can do it with the staff that we have at this time.”

Diesch said the new facility has a medical wing – something the old facility does not have. Diesch said if someone is contagious in the old facility, everybody in the facility breathes it, touches it and sees it. Diesch said the new facility has a negative airflow system. Diesch said there are three cells in the medical wing with cameras in each cell to monitor them. The jail pods have cameras in the day areas but not in each single cell.

Diesch added that the new facility will eliminate the need for jail staff to walk inmates across the parking lot to the courthouse for a hearing. He said it will be safer for the deputy and the inmate. He stated they will not have to worry about weather conditions like they did when walking across the parking lot from the old Law Center to the courthouse for a hearing.

“We’ll have a table and some chairs and instead of having a group coming up through the third floor, we’ll have one at a time,” Diesch said. “They’ll signal us. We’ll leave a deputy in the room with the guys and then we’ll take them one at a time upstairs to the third floor. A lot safer for general public. We’re not milling around with inmates. And we have a lot of incidental contact between the inmate and family members because they want to give them a hug or stuff, so that stuff will be a lot better here.”

Diesch said the current facility currently has 115 regular beds. The old facility could house 44 inmates.