A new expansion to the jail will operate as safe room

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BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — Officials are building a self-contained full-operational courtroom to the county jail.

County officials said they need this expansion to function during disasters.  

“We have a very hardened structure with the Bay County jail,” said Major Rick Anglin. “Now we are going to have a hardened structure that’s an actual courthouse.”

After Hurricane Michael, the Bay County Courthouse was unusable until crews could make extensive repairs. And with no courthouse, there were no court cases. And that posed problems. 

“Whenever someone is arrested, they have to have an opportunity to see the judge and you’re supposed to do that in the first 24 hours,” said Anglin. 

Immediately after the storm, the sheriff’s office set up a makeshift courtroom at the jail. Soon, hurricane damages won’t be a concern. This building will be designed to withstand 200 miles per hour winds.

“The building will be equipped with its own generator so we should go on without missing a beat,” said Anglin.

There will be six holding cells as well as a large courtroom.

“That door will come off of what we call the green mile,” he said. “So we will be able to bring fugitives in through that door.”

The tentative plans also include three video courtrooms.

“We’ve learned that we can actually do a lot more by video,” said Anglin. “The court has accepted that.”

There’s no date set for construction. County officials have only met with the architects and builders one time. The sheriff’s office is overseeing the project and using FEMA funds to pay for it. This new building won’t be used only during disasters. Sheriff’s officials said they will use it daily so inmate cases won’t get backlogged.

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