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Inmates escorted to new Fayette County Jail facility

FAYETTE COUNTY, Pa. — Nearly 160 inmates were escorted from the 131-year-old Fayette County Jail to their new facility on Wednesday.

Warden John Lenkey tells Channel 11 that he and his team have been preparing for this transfer for a long time, including help from several police agencies.

“We managed to move successfully without any issues whatsoever, went very smooth today. Close to 160 inmates were moved from our old facility to our new facility,” Lenkey said.

The new jail is located on the former site of the US Army Reserve Center, which sat vacant since the early 2000s. The Fayette County Prison Project Team decided they’d demolish the building and build a state-of-the-art new facility, which has more rooms, space for double the inmates, and focus on rehabilitation.

“This facility has been needed for a mighty, mighty long time,” said Commissioner Dave Lohr, who played a key role in getting the new building approved.

“For our guards in the old facility, it was actually dangerous,” Lohr said. “We want to make sure they are safe and the prisoners too, with rehabilitation.”

The former jail is a historic landmark and was built in 1892. The warden said it wasn’t large enough or safe enough for the guards or inmates.

“People come to jail for punishment and not to be punished,” Lenkey said. “I truly feel in here we can provide a lot better services to our offenders throughout the county.”

Commissioners haven’t made any decisions on the future of the former jail, but say their options are limited because it’s a historic landmark. 

One possibility they’ve discussed is housing juvenile offenders. Lohr said they’d need to gut the building, completely renovate it and receive funding from the state.

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