Committees Pass On Douglas County Jail Remodel Proposal
A proposal to remodel the current Douglas County Jail facility was vetoed by a joint meeting of the Executive and Administration Committees. With the no vote, the plan was left out of the $4.4 million in capital improvement projects that will shape spending for the next year.
Proponents of the plan wanted to spend $502,564 of the available budget on an addition of cells and beds to the 20 year old facility. The new holding cells and beds would be designated and allow for "maximum security" prisoners.
However, discussion among board members at the planning session determined that there really wasn't a need for the extra space or the expense.
According to an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], that $504,564 would have allowed the jail to add "three maximum security holding cells and six beds to the 233-bed facility" on the second floor. Douglas County Supervisor Rosemary Lear pointed out that "in the 20 years that the jail has been operational....the county hasn't needed the additional maximum security space". When discussing the jail population numbers, Lear added that "the census on the jail is like 140 inmates. You have room for 233."
In addition to the lack of need, Lear pointed out that the Douglas County Jail gas the right to refuse holding "dangerous" criminals. A refusal would allow the jail a chance to maintain population numbers.
It all adds up to a void in what the business world would call a "return on investment". That space and the additional maximum security cells were part of the original design for the $44 million dollar jail building back when it was built 20 years ago. At the time, Douglas County left the space off of the original designs to save "about $650,000". Chief Deputy Jerry Moe added that "it seems like an awful lot of money to spend for $100 a day for a bed".
For their part, jail officials promoted the fact that the facility as it currently exists lacks enough maximum security cells. Right now the Douglas County Jail has two maximum security cells. In addition to housing dangerous prisoners, those maximum security cells would also allow he jail to "quarantine prisoners who test positive for COVID-19 or some other outbreak".