DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) — Bristol County Sheriff Paul Heroux has proposed closing a controversial New Bedford jail.
Ash Street Jail houses 100 inmates in individual cells, according to Heroux. The sheriff will propose to lawmakers retrofitting the Bristol County Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Dartmouth to replace the jail.
The move will cost an estimated $10 million, Heroux said Wednesday. The legislature has to approve the plan before the project can begin, which would take at least three years to start.
“If we were to retrofit this, it could address the needs of inmates better now than when Ash Street was constructed in 1888,” Heroux added.
The sheriff said the move to the Dartmouth facility won’t involve layoffs and would save the department money by making operations more efficient.
“We need more people on this campus as it is,” Heroux said. “If we had an operation here that was designed for the purpose that we need it for … whereas Ash Street, we’re kind of just using it. It is really designed to have a full operation but it’s not a full operation going on right now. No layoffs. What we would probably see is less overtime.”
The Dartmouth facility is currently dormitory style and would have to be remade into individual cells. Steven Souza, superintendent of the sheriff’s office, said inmates are housed individually because of safety concerns.