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Improving the Jail

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 12:00pm


Douglas County Commissioners approved a plan for the jail to meet the needs of the public and those incarcerated, including a jail reconfiguration – meaning changing where some inmates are housed in the building and re-modeling some other parts of the jail – as well as expanding its capacity by 179 beds. This is primarily to ensure the public safety needs of the County, but also to provide a suitable environment to those who are housed in the jail. As was predicted in the 1990’s when the jail was designed, the current facility no longer meets the needs of our growing community. Due to a lack of space, county taxpayers spend over $1 million each year to send approximately 50-80 inmates elsewhere in the state, moving them farther away from their support systems and access to the jail’s nationally recognized reentry programs. Research shows that access to these resources has been proven to reduce recidivism.

Currently, women inmates are not separated when they enter the jail, which is known as the classification process. This means violent offenders are in the same pod or area with non-violent offenders and those with mental illness are housed in the same type of cell as everyone else. The new jail reconfiguration and expansion will ensure that women inmates are treated fairly and equitably as male inmates.

The new jail reconfiguration and expansion will also allow for a more therapeutic environment for inmates suffering from mental illness or substance use disorder, allowing those individuals to be seen by Bert Nash staff and get the care they need while in the jail.

Douglas County voters will consider a half-cent sales tax which would be used in part to pay the debt service on the estimated $44 million construction of the jail reconfiguration and expansion. 

Existing services in the Jail that need more space:

Alcoholics Anonymous
Anger Management
Assess-Identify-Divert Program
Behavior Therapy
Domestic Violence Awareness
Fathering Class
GED Classes
Narcotics Anonymous
Relapse Prevention
Substance Abuse
Writing Class

Alternatives to Incarceration

The county has fully implemented a number of alternatives to incarceration to help alleviate over-crowding at the jail and better serve individuals who can safely be diverted from the jail. Over the course of 2017, over 200 people were diverted.

Pretrial Release - 197

Behavioral Health Court - 15

House Arrest - 46

Without these programs, the overcrowding at the jail would be far worse and these individuals would have likely been sent to other jails. The proposed jail plan takes into account these programs continuing to be successful.



The purpose of this information is to educate the public. We encourage all Douglas County residents to learn more about the issues facing the jail, the proposed plans, and the costs of the project, in order to make an informed decision about these issues. 

Related Document(s): 

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Douglas County