Four officials will represent Douglas County this week at a federally sponsored seminar in Colorado where they will learn about options to alleviate jail overcrowding.
Sheriff Loren Anderson, Douglas County District Judge Mike Malone, County Commissioner Louie McElhaney and Bob Fairchild, county counsel, will attend the weeklong seminar in Boulder, Colo., put on by the National Institute of Corrections, an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. The NIC is paying for the seminar.
The seminar will offer instruction on ways to use sanctions against offenders, as opposed to incarceration. The NIC, also at its cost, will follow the training with an on-site study of the county's jail at a later date.
THE COUNTY JAIL experienced overcrowding during most of 1991. In the most recent available statistics, the 50-prisoner capacity jail averaged 52.9 prisoners a day from January 1991 through October 1991.
"It's an exploratory thing to determine what we're doing and what we can do with our numbers, and then what our most viable solution could be," Anderson said. "Currently, we're kind of focused on a minimum-security facility."
Malone, who credited Anderson for doing a "wonderful job" in administrating the jail, said it was "way past time" for the county to take action on the jail's overcrowding. He said a "great" potential for lawsuits and "immense" security problems existed at the jail because of its variety of prisoners. The jail houses inmates whose trial is pending and who are unable to make bond; inmates serving time for misdemeanors and some felonies; inmates on work-release programs; and inmates involved in a school release center for mental or alcohol problems.
"I SEE THE problem as using the jail as a center for too many different types of inmates," Malone said. "Hopefully this program will give us some insights or some ideas on how we can accomplish what we're doing now in a better way."
If findings at the seminar point to a work-release center as a solution to jail overcrowding, Malone said the county would benefit by not having to build a new jail. He said a work-release center would cost less money than a jail while serving the same purpose.
Malone said that among the candidates for work release would be inmates who are employed or have been convicted of property crimes or second or third drunken driving offenses.