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The old Paulding county jail

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That is a good question and the answer may be 'nothing.'  ... because any 'repurpose' of the property is going to be based on the utility or lack thereof of the facility.

For instance, this is the last time we had an old jail, that building was torn down. (The location is where Helping Hands now resides)  This was accomplished at least five years after the old jail closed.  Currently the juvenile facility just around the corner from the old jail (on the other side of the not completely abandoned Shaw Industries building in the north industrial park) is also vacant and, while there may be storage or possibly an office in the building, it is far from fully utilized since it was closed in 2014 (I think).  It being a state facility (as opposed to county-owned) involves some of the issues in terms of re-purposing.

Some older, historical jails have been converted to high-end hotels, museums and even social services buildings catering to the homeless and recently released prisoners.

What I've gathered from a quick review of the literature suggests that the process begins with an idea and often it takes years for a project to gain the support needed.

One step toward repurposing would be the sale of the building/structure to the Industrial Building Authority.  It is the only local group that has the authority to engage with private industry on the level needed to make a viable deal.  Because of the history of that authority in regard to the movie studio and airport brings with it so much baggage that, more than anything else, confidence in that body may make any use, other than as overflow by the SO, impossible.

I do think that the shop and formal sheriff's office (split from the jail a decade or so ago.) will also be vacated as a result of the new jail, SO complex at the new county complex.


Converted Cellblocks

The many ways we recycle vacant prisons.

At a former prison in the Bronx, the metal bars, steel doors, and other remnants of the building’s carceral past will soon be torn down. Corrections officials have announced today that the Bronx’s Fulton Correctional Facility is being transformed from a minimum security prison into a reentry center for newly released inmates, marking the first time that a prison is being reused in such a way. Fulton has sat empty since 2011, when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a slew of prison closures to help the state save money. Thirteen state prisons have since been closed.

Cuomo is not alone. In an effort to narrow budget gaps, some governors are shutting down or consolidating prisons in greater numbers. Between 2011 and 2013, at least 17 states announced that 70 prisons were slated for closure. Former Governor Rick Perry declared at CPAC last year: “You want to talk about real conservative governance? Shut prisons down. Save that money.” (In contrast, his predecessor, George W. Bush, oversaw the construction of 38 new prisons during his five years in office.)

So what to do with the now-empty prisons? “Reuse is a new territory in corrections,” says Nicole Porter, Director of Advocacy for the Sentencing Project, which compiles an annual report on prison closures. And while many communities, particularly rural ones, have struggled to resell or repurpose their vacant prisons, others have completely re-imagined the cellblocks in their backyards.

Recording studios and summer camps

In 2016, Growing Change — which designs models and methods for “flipping” vacant prisons — is set to transform Wagram Correctional Center in North Carolina, turning the solitary cells into aquaponic tanks that shunt fish waste through sun-facing walls into a greenhouse. The old “Hot Box,” a 19th century method of isolation and torture will become a recording studio. Other communities have their own creative ideas: The Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island will soon open as a movie studio; plans for a small prison in upstate New York have included a state veterans' cemetery, a Native American cultural center, and currently, a summer camp for kids; and on Monday, a former Louisiana detention complex was reopened as a transitional work facility.


The Gainesville Correctional Institution in Florida was transformed into a homeless shelter in 2014.

Opening Statement

When it came to transforming the Gainesville Correctional Institution in Florida into a homeless shelter in early 2014, “We tried to get rid of all the elements that reminded people it was a former prison as quickly as we could,” says Jon DeCarmine, director of operations for the North Central Florida Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry. Some of those changes have been aimed at the prison bathrooms, where showers face a large, open room. “We’re working on putting up curtains.” DeCarmine and others have gone on “search and destroy missions” to locate different signage around the prison property, including ones reminding corrections officers: “We never walk alone.”

What Everyone Gets Wrong

While some communities have struggled to resell their vacant prisons and jails, a prison’s restricted, self-contained design can be the very thing that makes it an ideal candidate for reuse. “Because these facilities are built to run around the clock, the building features make it convenient for many types of public and communal use,” says Catherine Chan, an architect specializing in prisons, jails, and courts. For Nick Erker, owner of Colorado Farm Products, the extensive security infrastructure at the former High Plains Correctional Facility made it the perfect location for his project: To grow and distribute medicinal marijuana. “There’s a video surveillance system, a lock system, concrete walls, and perimeter sensors on the fence,” he says. “All those lend themselves to a secure growing operation.” The proposal was “not well received by the correctional community,” he says, and is currently on hold.

An Inmate for a Night

A common trend among prison reconstructions projects — past and present — is to transform those facilities into hotels that incorporate the building’s history. The Liberty Hotel, located in Boston’s former Charles Street Jail, began accepting overnight guests in 2007. Visitors can still find evidence of the building’s prior life at Clink restaurant, where the “vestiges of original jails cells create cozy nooks for dining.” At the former Sultanahmet Prison in Istanbul, which became a luxury Four Seasons in 1996, etchings made by inmates can still be found on the marble pillars. And guests at Latvia’s Karosta prison shell out $16 a night to get the “full prisoner experience,” complete with a thin mattress, guards, and physical exercise as punishment. Until 1997, Karosta housed inmates; now, visitors must sign a form acknowledging they will be “insulted” and “treated like a prisoner,” according to the hotel’s website, which also tells prospective guests, “Remember that this is your choice.”



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Paulding has little or no resources for the homeless. I think it would be great. It could also be converted to a mental health facility or drug rehab.

Prisons are about locking people in, you don't have to lock the doors. Canvas could be used for privacy. A huge concern for homeless women and children is security. They could be housed safely. Churches and volunteers could cook and drive people to job interviews and jobs until they get on their feet. With the senior citizens across the street there is an awesome opportunity to bring young children and older adults together. If we continue to grow that area for industrial it could put people closer to higher wage job opportunities. With a recession on the way the need may be greater than ever.  We have invested a lot of money in that facility over the years and I believe it should continue to serve the taxpayer.

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Actually, if it is a good idea, then the only reason it is  unlikely is because those who see it as a good idea aren't willing to put time into an effort to make it happen.

The easiest path would be for a third-party entity (non-profit board) to adopt the effort as a project.  A new board could be formed for this purpose.

Another board that might be interested would be the community services board which deals with mental health.  This would more likely be the route if there is movement on the gun issue in terms of expanded mental health services. 

Which ever organizing route chosen, that board of directors would then lobby to have the IBA obtain ownership of the property.  The IBA would then likely lease the property to the board for a set term of years that is renewable. 

There are several examples.  For instance the Paulding Museum is now housed in the old county courthouse.  Notably, Kennesaw State and Georgia Highlands are also located in former county administration buildings. Chatt Tech is also sitting on former IBA property there in Dallas.

Heck, I'm not sure but I think that Helping Hands is in a former county maintenance building still owned by the county and leased to the non-profit. 

The point is, if it is good idea, it just takes some folks to take ownership and responsibility to make it happen. 

In all honesty, it may fail as an effort for a variety of reasons but it the most likely reason for failure is that key leadership to make it happen does not materialize.



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You can't really expect the county to convert and finance the old jail into a place for the homeless or mentally ill.  It doesn't have the financial resources for that.

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