Delaware County has finished second-floor renovations that will add 96 beds to its jail.

Delaware County has finished second-floor renovations that will add 96 beds to its jail.

The project, estimated at a little more than $2-million, also included parking lot improvements and first-floor maintenance. The sally port area, where prisoners enter and leave the facility, also was expanded.

R.W. Setterlin Building Co. started construction in March 2010. Funding for the project came from bonds and also from revenue the county gets for housing federal prisoners on a temporary basis.

County sheriff Walter Davis said Delaware County's growing population has increased the jail's average population. Prior to the renovation, the facility dealt with overcrowding by using makeshift beds.

"We were putting inmates on the floor with a mattress," Davis said.

According to the sheriff's office, since 2000 the average daily jail population has increased by 89 percent. The average population in the jail was 107 in 2000, compared with 203 in 2011.

The new extra space will create additional funding opportunities.

"It will allow us to house a few more federal prisoners, which will generate revenue coming into the county," Davis said. The county typically houses those inmates, who stay until they are sentenced.

The 96-bed facility is broken into four housing units with 24 beds in each. Each unit has a shower facility, a TV, and dining tables.

Davis said the phones in the units provide a way for inmates to talk to people outside the facility without additional cost.

Though the jail uses same-gender supervision, Davis said he's looking to move to a coed system to better utilize staff.

The floor's control room houses six monitors. It previously took two employees to monitor the jail. Now it takes one. Davis said the change allows for a more effective use of the staff.

A room for training and teaching also is available for inmates, which Davis said can contribute to reduced recidivism.

The sally port earlier could hold one car and now can hold three, Davis said. The expansion increases safety when transporting prisoners and leaves room for inmates to wash the cars.

Davis said his office had been spending $20,000 to $30,000 a year on car washes.

Davis said a future renovation plan, based on a needs assessment completed last year, would enable the jail to hold more than 500 prisoners. The county would add more additions to the building in five or six phases. Davis said it will be a 10- to 15-year project.

"We'll take that process very slowly," Davis said.

County commissioner Ken O'Brien, who attended a tour Feb. 25, said the new facility provides available space to combat any over-crowding issues that could contribute to leniency in sentences, he said.

"It was an appropriate allocation of money," O'Brien said.