Incomplete Detroit Jail Costs Taxpayers $1.2M a Month

And the Wayne County Jail may never even be finished
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2015 2:00 PM CDT
Incomplete Detroit Jail Costs Taxpayers $1.2M a Month
The uncompleted jail-building project in Detroit is seen Sept. 15, 2014.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(Newser) – A jailhouse that costs taxpayers $1.2 million a month is a hard-enough sell. But the city of Detroit is in an even stickier predicament: It has to justify that cost for an unfinished prison that was abandoned two years ago and will probably never be completed, Fox News reports. Monthly costs for the Wayne County Jail, which racked up $150 million in construction costs before the plan was shelved in 2013, include $4,000 for electricity, almost $11,000 for security, and nearly $13,000 for maintenance of sump pumps, the Detroit Free Press reports. Then there are the fees to store the prefab jail cells ($15,000), insurance (almost $5,000), and the largest cost: $1,184,000 and change for debt repayment. It's just the latest financial pile-on for the city, which has been mired in debt for years.

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The jailhouse was originally intended to be a 2,000-bed, $300 million project that would absorb the county's three other prisons, per Fox. But an investigation in 2013 into excess spending on the prison's construction led to the arrest of Wayne County's CFO, as well as the manager of the construction site, and brought all work to a halt. The city is reluctant to make a decision on whether to resume building the site or revamp the county's other prisons until it's made headway on its massive deficit—and although there's been interest from at least five buyers who want the site, the city hasn't bit on any offers. "The Wayne County Jail was a mess since it was created," the head of the Wayne County Taxpayers Association tells Fox. "We should … cut our losses. If someone is willing to purchase it, we should sell it." (Meanwhile, the city went after the wrong church to collect on a $170,000 electric bill.)

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