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June 7, 2013

Miami-Dade jail revamps waiting area for inmates

Inmates now will be processed much quicker when they come into the system at Miami-Dade main jail.

If you find yourself on your way to jail after 7 a.m. on Monday in Miami-Dade, expect some changes when you walk into the main jail.

Nurses will check inmates as they walk into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, 7000 NW 41st St.

Officers will run fingerprints and inmates also will meet the B.O.S.S. – Body Orifice Security Scanner.

Under the old system, it could take two to four hours to book one person, said Tim Ryan, director of the county’s Corrections and Rehabilitation Department.

The jail wants to cut that wait to 10 to 25 minutes, he said.

Now that the new intake center is opening at TGK, the county will shut down its intake center at the old Pre-Trial Detention Center, 1321 NW 13th St. It was built in 1961 to handle 80 check-ins a day. Now, the facility deals with more than 240 a day.

“We’ve been a little behind the curve,” Ryan said. “And this allows [for the new center to be] a model for American jail operations.”

He said most arrests are made in Miami.

“If we didn’t change our process, it is highly likely that we would be the impediment to an efficient and effective system,” he said.

Not everyone agrees that the changes are for the better.

“It means longer response times, and less police officers on our streets,” said Javier Ortiz, president of Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police.

He said he feels there is already a shortage of officers on patrol, and this decision seems rushed.

“We’re not buying it, it seems like there isn’t a plan,” he said.

Ortiz said when it comes to larger operations, the force might suffer.

“There is no way they can handle when the sweeps are done and the daily amount of prisoners that go through their doors,” he said.

Precincts that are further away from the TGK still need to transport prisoners and now have to deal with a longer drive.

Neal Cuevas, North Miami Police spokesman, said it’s too early to determine how well the process will work.

Cuevas’ precinct is 14 miles away from TGK.

Ryan assures smaller precincts will avoid downtown traffic by going to TGK.

“We’re changing the entire culture,” Ryan said.

Follow @ben_brasch on Twitter.

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