Mayor Jones and City Officials Break Ground on New Justice Center

Mayor Dwight C. Jones was joined by Sheriff C.T. Woody, City Council President Kathy Graziano, and City Council Vice President Ellen Robertson today in a ground breaking ceremony for the city’s new Justice Center. The ceremony marks the start of construction on the $134.6 million Justice Center project.

“We want this to be a facility that actually yields positive results, rather than a facility that drains resources and pulls a community downward,” said Mayor Jones. “This is an issue that I did fight for because building this new justice center is right thing to do.” The facility will be located at the current jail site and will have a rated capacity of 1,032 beds. The new Justice Center will be more efficient, provide more humane treatment of inmates, better conditions for the employees and visitors, and will cost taxpayers less money over the life of the facility. The Jones Administration is also focused on finding alternative solutions for non-violent offenders and for those suffering from mental illness.

The Virginia Board of Corrections unanimously approved the City’s plans to build a new jail in December of 2011. “Today, after many starts and stops, we are here to officially start a long overdue project,” said City Council President Kathy Graziano. “This will be a city jail that will not be a blight on the surrounding neighborhoods and that will provide its residents with humane conditions.”

“While the journey to this moment was long and riddled with distractions, our efforts will yield a new facility which enhances the lives of the employees who work here, the community members who volunteer here and the citizens who visit here,” comments Sheriff C.T. Woody.

“By choice today, we are making a decision to end mass incarceration. By choice, we are making a decision to view drugs as a health issue greater than a crime issue,” said City Council Vice President Ellen Robertson. “By choice, we promise alternatives to incarceration. This is a day of appreciation to honor the sheriff and his staff and to provide them a decent place to work.”

Tompkins/Ballard Joint Venture, the winning vendor for the construction of the new Justice Center, proposed a single-phased approach so inmates would not need to be moved out of the existing jail during construction. The proposal also was under budget and exceeded Mayor Jones’ goal of a 40 percent minority participation rate, as the proposal had a 50.2 minority business inclusion percentage and included 13 local area minority business firms as part of the construction team.

The facility is slated to open in January of 2014 and to be fully completed by the final quarter of 2014.