Detroit man fights Wayne County Jail plan in his neighborhood with lawsuit

Posted at 7:42 PM, Nov 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-14 19:42:47-05

A man who lives near the newly proposed site of the Wayne County Jail and Judicial Center has filed a lawsuit. His goal is to to prevent Detroit City Council from voting for it without more community input. 

Nicholas Miller spoke before Detroit City Council today. He says he is worried that building a jail at I-75 and Warren will impact traffic and safety in his neighborhood.
“While I recognize concerns around safety, the people in and out of this jail system aren’t necessarily criminals. Often times they are innocent and we need to be aware of our biases and the stereotypes they perpetuate,” said Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, a Detroit City Council member in reaction to his concerns.

“The fact of the matter is that there are people who are inclined toward crime who are going to be released at that site,” said Miller. “I have personally been the victim of a crime in Detroit. I was assaulted and mugged and sent to the hospital by a man who was out on bail from the county jail.”

City Council members admitted they have only been looking at the plan for a couple of weeks. Several voiced concerns they have not had enough time. They feel the county is pressuring them to act quickly. 

Here is what we know about the plan:

Billionaire Dan Gilbert’s Rock Ventures wants the land where the unfinished county jail stands across from the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. In exchange for the property, he offered to fund the building of a new jail and court complex for Wayne County near I-75 and Warren.  

In order for him to do that, the county would need Detroit to give it 11 acres that are part of the DDOT facility there. 

To make this plan possible the county is offering Detroit a land swap. In exchange for the needed 11 acres, the city would get the old American Motors site on Plymouth Road.

The county wants a decision fast because the unfinished jail is costing taxpayers more than $1 million a month. 

“We are trying to do what is best for the 1.7 million residents of Wayne County. We need a new jail. The jail conditions we have right now are not the most ideal conditions,” said Khalil Rahal, assistant county executive. 

Several city council members said they want the county to come back with more information and solutions for residents’ concerns. 

Detroit City Council said it will discuss the plan again when it meets next week.