PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - It's your money, and WINK News goes behind bars to see how $44 million of it was spent on the new Charlotte County Jail expansion.
For years, the Charlotte County Jail fought overcrowding. "I can have police officers arresting people everyday for crimes, but they have to go somewhere," Sheriff Bill Cameron said.
So today, County Officials breathed a sigh of relief and unveiled a 200,000 square foot addition that will play a critical role in keeping the community safe. While the current facility only has the capacity for 528 detainees, this new expansion will increase the bed count from 528 to almost 1,000.
"Our goal is to give them the best chance we can to be productive citizens within our county," Commissioner Dick Loftus said.
The jail will also house additional classrooms to where detainees can better themselves as well as a hearing room. "We can actually conduct hearings here as well and it will actually resemble the courthouse environment everybody is accustomed to seeing," Sgt. Joseph Gaudette said.
The extra space will ensure safety not only for staff, but the inmates as well. "All I would say is all but for the grace of God go I," Cameron said. "Any one of us or any one of our family members could find themselves here."