Accept fact new jail

comes with a price

Does anyone seriously believe we could build the proposed Community Corrections and Rehabilitation Center on top of the old jail at a cost of “$0” for the land? Incredible! Do you believe in a genie in a bottle? 

The supposed free land tells only a very small part of the story.

You can be sure the commissioners seriously considered that proposal before rejecting it. The cost of renovating the old jail (only to lose jail space once we modify the space because of new jail standards), housing inmates offsite during construction, utilities upgrade, property acquisition downtown (very expensive) would exceed cost of a new site. Parking would be sacrificed (does anybody want that?) even if the building were ‘on stilts’ (presumably to provide a ground-level parking garage). Future growth would be restricted: the only way would be up, requiring additional staff for each floor vs. staffing a single-story facility. Altogether, it would be operationally very inefficient and set us backward.

All proposed sites were carefully considered but kept secret to prevent land speculation. That makes sense to me. There were no ethical violations.

Someone asked why we would be merely locking people up instead of accessing rehabilitation services offered by mental health/rehab facilities around the county. That’s a wonderful question which was thoroughly addressed in the community presentation. This new facility is much more than a jail. Note the name! The present jail can only provide lock-up, which is why prisoners in their orange uniforms now are escorted by a deputy to relevant treatment facilities at significant cost, plus risk to the public. So, in most cases these services cannot be offered at all. This facility will provide ample space for treatment providers to meet their clients on-site. A big savings! It will also allow for all manner of educational programs and religious services. 

Also, very importantly, it would provide for separating prisoners by the severity of their offenses. Presently there’s a very limited ability to do that.

There’s no doubt that we must build a new facility, especially considering the County has approximately 7000 outstanding warrants that have yet to be served. We’re presently out of compliance with state regulations too. The only reason they haven’t shut us down is because we are planning a new facility. This proposal meets all state standards and regulations at a cost comparable, if not less than, that of any other location.

Mary Ellen Blake


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