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HomeGovernment$463 million DC jail could face delays or cancellation over budget funding...

$463 million DC jail could face delays or cancellation over budget funding issues: DCDOC

Washington Construction News staff writer

A proposed $463 million, six-year project to build a new jail for the District may need to be delayed or even cancelled altogether, the DC Department of Corrections says.

WTOP reports that the department’s director Thomas Faust has sent a letter to the D.C. Council claiming that the budget currently being considered by council members would “severely delay” the project “and may very well derail it entirely.”

The budget proposed by D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson “would essentially delay the funding, with the bulk of it being released about three years from now,” the broadcaster reported on May 31.

“My understanding is that the planning is just at the basic concept level,” Mendelson said in a statement to WTOP. “It’s just not ready.”

Mendelson claimed that it “doesn’t make sense” to spread the funding out over six years.

“All we did was consolidate the spending over three years, which is how construction projects typically are phased,” Mendelson said.

However Faust says Mendelson’s plan would make it “impossible to move this project to the architecture phase” next year.

“Reducing that budget presents a huge risk to the project’s construction schedule,” Faust said. “Any further delay in the construction schedule also continues very concerning issues of conditions of confinement for jail residents.”

During a budget meeting Wednesday, D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said she was “very concerned.”

“If we just continue moving it out so far, there’s no assurance that we’re going to get off the ground,” Pinto said.

Mendelson said he would continue discussing the matter with Pinto in the coming days.

The Bowser administration wants to replace the aging jail with a “modern, secure and resilient facility that has the necessary infrastructure to address the critical rehabilitation, treatment and reentry needs of individuals in the custody.”

The Central Detention Facility opened in 1976.  WTOP reports that in 2021, the U.S. Marshals Service removed hundreds of inmates from the jail after finding “standing human sewage” in the toilets of inmates’ cells, flooding, mold in cells and some cells that had water “shut off for days.”

Mark Buckshon
Mark Buckshonhttps://washingtonconstructionnews.com
Mark Buckshon is the publisher and interim editor of Washington Construction News. He is also president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. He combines a journalism and business background, and has published construction trade publications for more than 30 years, after an earlier career in journalism, which culminated when he lived through the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe in 1978-80 as a sub-editor for the Bulawayo Chronicle and a correspondent for a Canadian news service.

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