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MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — County officials in east-central Indiana have agreed to buy and repurpose a former middle school for a new jail.

Delaware County officials said that the county will spend nearly $2.9 million to buy the former Wilson Middle School and its property.

The Delaware County Council approved a resolution to purchase the building during a meeting Tuesday, The Star Press reported.

The middle school was closed by Muncie Community Schools due to declining enrollment. It was later purchased by a construction and property management company, ASONS, which subsequently put it on the market for $4.9 million.

The approved resolution authorized commissioners to get two appraisals on the property, after which the average price of the property was brought down.

Officials estimated the cost of turning the building into a jail will be $37 million to $45 million. The commissioners are expected to begin looking for a company to build the jail next week.

County officials said the 500-bed jail is expected to be completed in two years.

The county’s current jail was built to settle a 1978 lawsuit filed by inmates over unconstitutional conditions.

Plans for the new jail came after a jail inspector issued a warning letter to the county last year about the current jail’s conditions.

“As sheriff, I will run the jail no matter where it is, but the need for space and correctional deputies is real time now,” said Sheriff Ray Dudley. “We have maxed out the release programs and need to house more inmates rather than release them on pre-trial.”


Information from: The Star Press,