Beginning Tuesday, an Escambia County grand jury will review evidence from the April 30 explosion at the County Jail’s Central Booking and Detention Facility.
Two inmates were killed and 184 other inmates and staff were injured in the blast, which came as the facility was flooded from torrential rainfall. The subsequent investigation by the state Fire Marshal’s Office turned up no real surprises, that the explosion was the result of a natural gas leak in the basement.
Meeting in committee, the Escambia County Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday to instruct staff to gather information on awarding a contract to build a facility to replace both the Central Booking Unit and the Main Jail.
The booking facility sustained major damage in the April 30th explosion, which killed two inmates and injured 184 other inmates and staff. Inmates are now being held at the main jail, a work camp in Cantonment, and at lockups in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties.
Just over a week after an explosion at the Escambia County Jail’s central booking facility, the building is back under county control as the investigation is continues.
The state Fire Marshal’s Office returned the jail to the County Commission on Thursday, after leading the investigation into the blast which killed two inmates and injured 184 others. The initial report did not raise any eyebrows.
Inmates from the Escambia County Jail are scattered around detention facilities and hospitals in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties after Wednesday night’s explosion at the lockup. The blast is believed to have originated in a rear laundry room on the first floor, according to officials.
A five-year federal investigation of the Escambia County Jail was released in May, painting a bleak picture of the facility.
Exactly who would run the jail on September 1st – the original deadline -- was front and center at a Commission agenda review meeting in June. The main sticking point was a letter from Commissioner Grover Robinson to Sheriff David Morgan. Robinson said if running the jail was beyond Morgan’s capacity, he – Robinson – would be glad to relieve him of that duty.