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Fayette County explores site for new jail

Deb Erdley
| Tuesday, July 10, 2018, 2:54 p.m.
The Fayette County Prison, in Uniontown, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
The Fayette County Prison, in Uniontown, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
The Fayette County Prison, in Uniontown, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
The Fayette County Prison, in Uniontown, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
The Fayette County Prison, in Uniontown, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
The Fayette County Prison, in Uniontown, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
The Fayette County Prison, in Uniontown, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
The Fayette County Prison, in Uniontown, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
The Fayette County Prison, in Uniontown, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
The Fayette County Prison, in Uniontown, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.

Under increasing pressure to replace their 129-year-old county prison, Fayette County Commissioners on Tuesday announced they have acquired the former U.S. Army Reserve Center on McClellandtown Road in Uniontown and plan to make it the site of the new county prison.

The announcement comes on the heels of a federal class action suit the ACLU filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh last month. The lawsuit filed on behalf of four inmates alleges inmates there are subjected to cruel and inhumane living conditions including raw sewage running through cells, rats, roaches, mice and a lack of running water.

The facility was built in 1889 to house 76 inmates and expanded and renovated several times to bring its capacity to 264 beds. It houses an avearge of about 220 inmates a day, according to prison inspection reports.

The looming stone fortress adjacent to the county courthouse has been the focus of repeated complaints from corrections officers and inmates in recent years as county commissioners explored proposals for a new prison.

An assessment completed last year concluded that the “prison is of such poor design and condition, it should no longer be used for the housing of inmates.”

Various studies, dating back to 2012, yielded two proposals that were scuttled after cost estimates for a new prison came in at $27 million to $30 million.

Commissioners petitioned the U.S. General Services Administration to take over the abandoned reserve center in 2016. The no cost deed they were recently granted includes the facilities on the 6.5 acre site as well as public water and utility connections.

No additional information on specific plans for the site or a timetable for development was immediately available Tuesday.

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