Monday, December 07, 2015

Wise jail investments focus on quality, not volume

Counties which want to invest in their jails should eschew expansion and follow Bexar County's lead. From the SA Express-News last month (Nov. 22):
With the inmate population trending downward in recent years, officials have embarked on plans to consolidate and modernize facilities inside a more secure perimeter.

After more than two years of construction, the jail complex will have 400 fewer beds than now, but it will better serve women, inmates needing treatment and offenders on work-release, officials said. Jail workers will see better conditions, too, they said.

“There are a lot of moving parts on this,” Sheriff Susan Pamerleau said. The changes will ease inmates’ access to services and enhance security in and around the jail, she said.

“We are excited about what this brings to our community,” the sheriff said.

The Commissioners Court authorized the $32 million project last week. The largest expense will be a new housing tower costing $17.7 million and having 512 “program-focused” beds for mental health and medical initiatives.

The project’s first step, coming at a cost of $5.5 million, will be relocation of the Sheriff’s Office administration from its cramped quarters in the jail into an underutilized probation office across the street.
Grits can't recall the last time a Texas county jail finished a construction project with fewer beds than when it began. Perhaps that's a welcome beginning to a new trend.

No comments: