The Douglas County Commission unanimously approved a resolution that authorized the funding and construction of an expansion of the Douglas County Correctional Facility during its meeting Jan. 29.
The project will add a tower to the facility, which would provide between 84 and 112 beds. It also will include improvements to the visitation areas and an expansion of the jail’s parking lot. The expansion project is estimated to cost $29.6 million. Replacement of the existing central air and heating system will be completed at the same time.
The goals of the expansion project are to:
- Bring back inmates who are housed out of Douglas County
- Allow for re-entry and programs space
- Allow for inmates to be safely housed in the appropriate housing unit.
- Build a financial sustainable solution
According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, they are facing overcrowding challenges and a potential crisis at the Correctional Facility. Here’s why:
- Safety and security is compromised by not properly classifying
- Safety and security is compromised by regularly moving inmates in and out of the jail to be housed out of county
- Other counties only accept low-risk inmates, leaving staff to supervise an increased proportion of difficult inmates
- Inmates housed out of county are unable to receive re-entry and other available services
- Inmates housed out of county are farther from family, local support and attorneys
- Lack of equitable housing for women
- Housing options outside of county are rapidly becoming limited
Staff will proceed to work with the county’s financial advisor and bond counsel to prepare issuance of bonds. County Commissioners will act on the issuance at meetings in March and April. Staff also will continue to work with the design and construction team to finalize construction documents and secure bids and sub-contractors.
Construction is expected to begin this spring and could be finished by late 2021.
Douglas County, Douglas County Criminal Justice Services, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Douglas County Attorney’s Office and community partners have worked with national experts since 2015 to reduce the jail population. Since then, the county has launched the following programs: pretrial release, house arrest, women’s diversion program, behavioral health court and drug court.
Douglas County will continue to work with the Sheriff, District Attorney and the 7th Judicial District to improve criminal justice services.