LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Officials in Lancaster County will hold a public meeting next month to discuss the proposed Lancaster County Correctional Facility.

According to the county, the meeting will be held on Feb. 1, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. in the County Government Center.

The proposed facility would be located in Lancaster adjacent to the Greenwood Cemetery on the peninsula created by the Conestoga River.

Officials have called Lancaster County’s decades-old prison facilities “inadequate to accommodate the needs of a modern correctional facility.”

According to a project website, county officials say creating a new correctional facility would be one of the largest projects ever undertaken in the county’s history. They say the project “provides opportunities for movement, light, climate control, parking and visitation; programming opportunities such as education, support services and re-entry services; more opportunities for staff recruitment and retention; and a focus on prioritizing treatment using evidence-based programming to reduce recidivism.”

A timeline on the project website estimates the project’s design to begin in February and last one year. Bidding is projected to begin in early 2024 with a groundbreaking in the spring and the facility opening in 2026.

According to data provided by the Lancaster County Prison Advisory Committee, both property and violent crimes have steadily decreased in Lancaster County since 2017, as have arrests.

The number of admits and central booking detainees is down 8.8% since 2017, but the length of prison stay is up 10% and is greater than the nation’s average length of stay.

Sixty-four percent of inmates are awaiting trial with an average wait of 33 days, according to county data.

As of Sept. 30, 90% of Lancaster County prison’s inmates have been incarcerated multiple times, 58% have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, and 37% have a mental health treatment history.

In 2021, 8% of inmates were diagnosed with a serious mental health disorder, 40% were on psychiatric medication, and 11% were placed on suicide watch. Less than 1% of Lancaster County inmates in 2021 committed suicide.