Douglas County Commission to have work session on jail expansion design options

Douglas County Jail

The Douglas County Commission will start a series of work sessions Wednesday on topics related to the expansion of the Douglas County Jail and to the building and staffing of a mental health crisis intervention center.

Wednesday’s work session, which will start at 2:30 p.m. at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., will focus on jail expansion designs, their costs and the impact on the jail’s population of alternatives to incarceration programs that the county has started.

Treanor Architects has been working to update the conceptual jail designs it presented last year to commissioners. The design updates are based on new inmate population projections that Sheriff Ken McGovern and consultant Allen Beck have developed.

McGovern told commissioners in May that more male minimum- and medium-security beds would be needed than previously estimated. Beck presented findings in June that supported that conclusion, but also found that the jail’s female inmate population would not grow as quickly as projected when Treanor presented its conceptual designs.

Treanor representatives will provide different design options for commissioners with cost estimates, and, for the first time, commissioners will hear about operational cost estimates related to the expansion, said Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug.

The dates of the other work sessions and topics:

• A Sept. 27 review of expanded residential options for supportive housing in the behavioral health continuum of care.

• An Oct. 4 review of financing mechanisms for the jail expansion and crisis center.

• An Oct. 11 presentation from Bob Tryanski, county director of behavioral health projects, on the county’s behavioral health initiatives, strategies and partnerships. Contributing to the review will be representatives from Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, Heartland Community Health Center, the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority and DCCCA.

• An Oct. 18 discussion of the oversight of Douglas County Community Corrections. The work session will include a report from Robert Bieniecki, county criminal justice coordinator, on how community corrections can most appropriately fulfill its service to the courts and the expectations of the County Commission. By state statute, corrections is the responsibility of the County Commission, but a past commission assigned it to the clerk of the Douglas County District Court.

• A Nov. 1 wrapup of material from earlier work sessions and status of various capital projects and funding mechanisms.