Hundreds of people enjoy meal behind bars at new jail

MARION, IL (KFVS) - It's been along time coming, but finally the new Williamson County Jail is ready to house prisoners.

The work on the new facility began back in 2010. The state-of-the-art facility will replace the old one built back in 1972, and updated in 1985.

"It's a whole lot nicer, not only does it bring us in compliance with the Illinois department of corrections," said Williamson County Sheriff Bennie Vick. "But it also makes it a safer environment for our correctional officers."

The old jail was only set up for a 102 beds, compared to the new jail which will be able to handle twice as many prisoners.

"This one will have 240 beds. So we'll not only be able to handle our inmates. But we should be able to get some of the U.S. Marshall's inmates and the Bureau of Prisons," said Sheriff Vick. "And we maybe able to get some of the other counties when they have overflow. They're always looking at a place to house inmates."

But, on Saturday afternoon the only inmates were the people who wanted to get an exclusive look at the inside of the jail.  Hundreds also enjoyed a bar-b-que meal which was offered to help raise funds for the county's Crimestopper program.

The county leaders were able to fund construction on the new jail without reaching into taxpayers pockets.

"I think it's wonderful. I'm a county employee. And I've seen the deplorable conditions that the old jail is in," said Cathy Motsinger of Marion. "So I think it's a great thing that the county had the foresight to take advantage of federal funding that was available. And set money back too. I think it was very responsible of the county board."

Sheriff Vick says the transfer of prisoners from the old jail into the new jail, is scheduled to begin in the next three to four weeks.

There will be a dedication ceremony on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at the Williamson County Jail. The public is invited to attend.

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