OHIO - Repair of 142 Electonically Controlled Doors Creating Headaches For Jail

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Title: Stark jail crowding worsens during lock repairs Some misdemeanants sent to other jails. Work on cell doors runs behind schedule as number of prisoners begins seasonal increase

BY GEORGE W. DAVIS Beacon Journal staff writer

March 23, 2000

CANTON: Repair of 142 electronically controlled sliding doors to improve safety throughout the Stark County Jail is creating more overcrowding headaches for Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson.

Swanson said prisoners must be moved from work areas into other areas of the 379-bed jail. Felons are being shifted within the jail, while misdemeanants are being shipped to other jails because of crowding at the Stark facility, which was built in 1964 and occupied a year later.

The door project will cost the county $597,900, with the contract requiring that work be completed by April 19. A supervisor for the contractor said completion more likely will occur in May.

The contractor will be penalized $250 each day after the deadline until the work is finished.

``The work needs to be completed as quickly as possible because we are now manually opening and closing the doors rather than operating them electronically. We've had to resort to these measures to avoid any more breakage of materials, which no longer are available, and we have had to make them ourselves,'' Swanson said.

His comments came as he showed members of the news media the work in the first of four felon cellblocks to get repairs; each has 17 cells.

Please see Jail, C5 Jail

Each cell door will have its own electric motor

Continued from Page C1 Swanson said moving prisoners from one cellblock to another for repairs is putting added strain on his staff. He said 38 prisoners were in other jails yesterday, partly because of the repairs.

Repairs began Monday and are expected to be completed in that first area by tomorrow night or early Saturday, according to Terrill Rigsby, president of C&R Security of Atmore, Ala.

Rigsby's company and Ohio Concrete of Akron have been hired by U.S. Security Systems of Montgomery, Ala., to handle dismantling and installation.

Swanson said that once the workers leave the cellblock this weekend, inmates will clean and repaint the confines, including the doors and the new steel that houses the electronic mechanism over each sliding door.

The sheriff expects this week's displaced inmates to be back in their original cells Monday, when another group will be moved so work can resume with the least amount of lost time.

``We wanted the contractor to do this installation during the winter when our jail numbers are down, but we already are seeing additional overcrowding problems because of this and arrests,'' Swanson said. ``As the weather gets warmer, our numbers always increase, so the sooner this work can be done, the better.''

The sheriff said the electronic mechanisms that open and shut the jail's sliding doors have repeatedly malfunctioned. Jailers can't detect equipment jams when operating the doors electronically.

As a result, jailers are opening and closing the doors with cranks so they can feel the jams and stop before further damage is done.

The cell doors, installed 36 years ago, are being recycled and rehung on each cell to help control costs. All other equipment is being replaced.

Individual motors will open each door, Swanson said.

``By each door having its own motor, a breakdown would effect only one door, not all of them, as with the old system,'' Rigsby said.

As a worker tested one cell's electronic door mechanism, Swanson commented on the sound of the new doors being closed: ``They don't bang like they used to.''

George W. Davis can be reached at 330-478-6000 (Ext. 20) or 1-800-478-5445 or by e-mail at gdavis@thebeaconjournal.com



-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), March 23, 2000

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