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Inmates moving into new Kalamazoo County Jail, facility nears completion

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Construction at the Kalamazoo County Jail is finally coming to a close.

It's a story Newschannel 3 has been following closely for months.

Two years and $23 million later, the pressure is slowly coming off Sheriff Richard Fuller. 

"It feels really nice to have these things done," Sheriff Fuller said. 

The momentum picked up three weeks ago, when dozens of inmates moved into the "pod" areas of the new facility.

Theyve been rotating the inmates through four pod sections to test them out.

"There have been a few kinks, minor things. We find out that the plumbing works pretty much the way we thought it was going to. Or the lights are perfect for having them on at the right time," Sheriff Fuller said. 

Phone service to the pods started working Tuesday.

During certain times of the day, inmates can make collect calls to the outside world. 

Each pod can hold up to 32 inmates.

Heavy glass and steel replaces traditional jail bars so staff can see them better.

The pods have dayrooms where inmates watch TV, socialize and eat meals.

"We're learning from the inmate population that they enjoy the freedom being able to walk around," Sheriff Fuller said. 

Still under construction is the Healy Street Visitation Center where visitors will speak to inmates in the jail through a video system.

"Until that happens, we have to go at a slower pace over here at the pod section, but the rest of the facility is in full operation," Sheriff Fuller said.

The new facility will have space for more than 200 additional inmates, alleviating over-crowding concerns.

The sheriff said conditions have been improving at the jail complex over the past four years, and the new jail is just part of that.

"The entire facility now has an even better atmosphere when it comes to the inmate population and the way they interact with the staff and one another has really improved," Sheriff Fuller said. 

Sheriff Fuller said they still need to hire more jail staff.

The sheriffs office anticipates everything to be finished this spring.