All inmates were safely transferred into the new $37 million Cape May County jail Monday, according to Cape May County Sheriff Robert Nolan.

The transfer involved walking a little less than 200 inmates across about 50 yards from the old jail to the new one on Crest Haven Road.

The old jail, built in the 1970s, will be demolished later this year to make room for a parking lot, officials have said.

Correctional staff completed the transfer with help from the county Prosecutor’s Office and local police departments, according to a news release.

Nolan thanked county staff for the smooth transition.

The old jail was built in 1976 to hold about 180 inmates, Nolan said during a recent tour of the new facility, which has five, 64-person housing units to hold 320.

Inmates were often doubled up in rooms designed to hold one, and the old jail was deemed overcrowded by the state Department of Corrections, which pressured the county to address the problem.

The count averaged about 220 this summer and a little less than 200 for the past few months.

The county had to choose among closing the jail and paying about $12 million a year to house and transport the inmates in other counties; renovating the existing building or renovating and adding on at an estimated cost of $19 million to $29 million; sharing one jail with other counties at an unknown total cost or time of completion; or building new at a cost of $37 million, Nolan said.

Nolan said the county determined a new jail was the best option, and its cost will be spread out over 30 years and not require a tax increase.

Contact: 609-272-7219 MPost@pressofac.com Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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