Cochise County preparing for construction of new jail

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COCHISE COUNTY, Ariz. — The second release of preliminary results from Tuesday‘s new jail district special election indicate the county will have a high sales tax to fund a new jail district.

The results, released Wednesday evening, have 51% of voters in favor of raising the sales tax by half a cent for the next 25 years. At the time of the release from the county there were 156 ballots left to count. More than 25,000 ballots were collected of the 76,000 that were mailed out. The next release will be 5 p.m. on Friday.

“This is a huge step after 40 years as we open a new chapter for our detention folks here in Cochise County,” said Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. “We have to get a new jail built. The sooner we can get it built the sooner we can satisfy the need of the people that need a jail in this county.”

The construction of the new jail is estimated to cost $92 million. Dannels said he has $20 million in seed money from the state for the project.

The new jail will have more medical and mental health resources available for the inmates. Dannels said most of the people that are incarcerated in the county jail are first time offenders who need resources to help them when they are released to rejoin the community.

“In modern times jails aren’t just cages,” he said. They’re actually resource centers— they truly are. My job as a sheriff is too safeguard those who’ve been accused of committing crimes or have been convicted and serving times. We safeguard them but we also provide resources cause we don’t want them to come back.”

Once the votes are certified, movement can start on the project. Dannels said they will have studies done for the best location and design of the new jail. Dannels would like the new jail to be build next to the current jail because it’s by the courts and because Bisbee is the county seat.

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Alexis Ramanjulu is a reporter in Cochise County for KGUN 9. She began her journalism career reporting for the Herald/Review in Sierra Vista, which she also calls home. Share your story ideas with Alexis by emailing alexis.ramanjulu@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook.

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