Wayne County to destroy $1.2M in brand new jail cells

(WXYZ) - Wayne County is about to take $1.2 million and destroy it.

The County Building Authority approved the plan presented by Robert Ficano’s administration to crush 111 jail cells that were custom made for the failed jail project Wednesday morning. 

The county paid $1.2 million for the cells and had hoped to save them for use if they move the jail to the state’s old Mound Road Correctional facility.  It will cost $315,000 to destroy the cells, which includes a credit for recycling the material.

Administration officials say it will cost $270,000 to store them, and they can’t be retrofitted properly to use in a different facility.  Transporting the 20,000-40,000 pound cells would cost $463,000.

“We really looked at all the options,” said June Lee, Ficano’s Chief of Staff.  “It’s unfortunate having to destroy them, but it’s the best business decision we can make at this time.”

“At first brush I think it’s crazy,” said Wayne County Commissioner Ray Basham.  Basham says the decision seems premature since the Commission hasn’t formally decided where the jail will be relocated to or whether construction would resume at the Gratiot site, where the cells were supposed to be installed.

Ficano pulled the plug on the $300 million Wayne County jail project after learning last summer that it was projected to be $91 million over budget.  Both the FBI and the Wayne County Prosecutor are investigating the jail debacle.

The county is currently suing the jail contractor and construction manager.  County officials are hoping to move the jail and courts to the Mound Road site.  If that happens, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert has offered to purchase the old jail and court facilities in downtown Detroit for $50 million.

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