jail consultant has been hired by the Platte County commissioners as they continue to look at proposing an expansion of the Platte County Jail.
Commissioners Ron Schieber, Dagmar Wood and John Elliott have openly considered a proposed $43 million expansion of the current jail, a proposal that would nearly triple the capacity of the current 180-bed jail. That proposal would add more than 330 beds and bring the capacity of the county facility to more than 510 inmates.
Another option being considered, Schieber said on Monday, is still the possibility of proposing an expansion into the basement of the current jail, known as the “futures” area. That idea, it is hoped, could add about 102 beds if heating/cooling ductwork is relocated. Relocating the ductwork may allow a “mezzanine” level to be added, increase the potential from 51 beds to 102 in the basement, commissioners recently said.
Schieber said architects are still working on the futures proposal and the estimated price of that option.
The $43 million addition was priced before the county’s financial ratings recently took a tumble after commissioners openly discussed the possibility of not making the next payment on Zona Rosa parking garage bonds that were committed by a previously county commission a decade ago. The county’s financing costs on $43 million would be expected to be increased significantly by the recent ratings downgrades, officials acknowledge.
On Monday, the commission approved a motion to hire Bill Garnos as jail consultant at “a cost not to exceed $7,860.”
Garnos is an elected city official in Gladstone, having served as mayor and city councilman there. His resume indicates he served as executive assistant to the secretary of the department of corrections in South Dakota in 1989, state project director for corrections for the governor from 1987-89, a management analyst in the executive Office of the Governor in South Dakota, an executive policy analyst, a former researcher/planner for department of public safety in South Dakota, etc.
Wood says the jail population in Platte County sparked her interest in expanding the current capacity. The county’s capacity is 180 beds but additional inmates can be housed when the sheriff’s department adds temporary bunks on the floor, says Major Erik Holland of the sheriff’s department.
On one recent weekend the jail population was listed at 207, with around 19 of those at that time being ICE prisoners. The county rents beds to ICE at $77 per day per inmate, Holland said recently.
Seventeen days later the population had dropped from 207 to 171, a drop of 36 inmates, with 18 of the 171 being from ICE.
Wood on Monday during the commission meeting said the jail population on that day was at 180 with 14 ICE prisoners. The Landmark looked online while Wood was making her announcement during Monday’s meeting and the jail population was actually at 173 with 15 of those being ICE inmates.
At 7 a.m. on that day, The Landmark had noted the population was 177 with 18 of those being ICE. The 177 was the highest population The Landmark had noted in recent days.
Garnos’ work for the $7,860 will include a review of the county’s past jail studies and projections; review of current trends in the county’s criminal justice system; analysis of Platte County’s inmate population trends and profile; inmate population projections and jail capacity requirements; review of alternatives to incarceration and best practices to manage inmate population growth, and a final report and presentation.
Garnos on Monday said he expects his project to take about 60 days to complete.