Archive for Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Estimated cost to expand Douglas County Jail jumps by millions of dollars

Douglas County Jail

Douglas County Jail

September 20, 2017


The Douglas County Commission's series of work sessions on the expansion of the county jail and creation of a mental health crisis intervention center began Wednesday with the sticker-shock news that it would cost between $38.3 million and $46 million to expand the jail.

“That’s the cost of waiting,” Commission Chairman Mike Gaughan said after the work session.

Jeff Lane, of Treanor Architects, shared new conceptual jail design options and cost estimates with commissioners at the work session. The most expensive design, labeled "plan A," modified a design Treanor had shared with commissioners in January 2016. The cost estimate for that plan increased in those 18 months from $30 million to $46 million. It would add 207 beds to the current 186-bed facility.

Treanor also shared two more designs based on new jail population projections Sheriff Ken McGovern and consultant Allen Beck have shared with commissioners in recent months. Those projections forecast that the jail’s population of minimum security inmates would increase more than previously thought, while female inmates, maximum-security inmates and other populations would not grow as much as previously thought.

The less expensive of the two new designs, which would add 131 beds, would cost an estimated $38.3 million. The more expensive design would add 170 beds and has an estimated price tag of $40.74 million.

Lane said the increase in the estimate from last year reflected “skyrocketing” labor costs.

All three designs Lane shared added male and female classification pods, in which jail staff would assess the behavior of newly arrived inmates before assigning them a security level. That standard feature of modern jails is absent in the current jail.

Assistant County Administrator Sarah Plinsky estimated the "plan A" expansion would add $8.92 million to the jail's annual operating cost and would require 100 full-time jail employees. Each of the new designs would add $7.96 million to the jail’s annual operating cost and would require 89 full-time employees. The jail currently has a staff of 95 full-time employees and an annual budget of $9.6 million.

Plinsky said her operating budget projections didn’t factor in the $1.3 million the county would save from not placing inmates in the jails of other counties.

That practice was getting more and more difficult as the jails of other counties were filling up, commissioners were told. Furthermore, corrections officer Troy Miller, who is responsible for scheduling out-of-county placement, said other counties only accept well-behaved inmates involved with less serious crimes — the inmates who would benefit most from the county’s re-entry program if they were housed at the Douglas County Jail. Not only are inmates deprived of programming that can help them succeed when they get out of jail, they also come back to Douglas County with behavioral issues because of lack of services, Miller said.

The crowding at the jail is also taking a physical and emotional toll on staff, Miller and Undersheriff Gary Bunting said.

Commissioner Michelle Derusseau said the issues Bunting and Miller highlighted needed to be addressed, especially the increasing safety concerns to inmates and staff at the jail.

“It’s a great concern,” she said. “Thank you for your honesty. It is changing in population out there.”


Steve Jacob 4 months ago

Heck, you can add a million or two this month. Florida and Texas will take a lot of the dwindling number of construction workers for years.

Deborah Snyder 4 months ago

But here's the thing to consider, Mr. Jacobs... if "skyrocketing" labor costs are to blame in the revised figures for the jail, how does that translate for a new police headquarters? The 'new & improved' school bond? Any infrastructure repair and/or new construction?

See, Jackson County, MO is dealing with almost complete reconstruction of their jail, and I don't hear their county commissioners' shock and dismay over labor costs... so what's really going on here is changing structural plans, along with the possibility that prisoner transfer costs will escalate during reconstruction of the male inmate wing, probably to out-of-state systems, since Kansas penitentiaries are in chaos already with Leavenworth

Steve Jacob 4 months ago

I am sure the police headquarters and school bond projects price have also increased.

Deborah Snyder 4 months ago

...facility undergoing reconstruction... IMHO now is not the time to expand the jail until after a mental health facility is up and running in Douglas County.

Bob Summers 4 months ago

Considering the superfluity of criminals coming out of government inculcation centers and criminal trespassers put in sanctuary cities, better add a few more million to the cost.

Jerry Harper 4 months ago

$30, $40, $50 million. Pretty soon you are talking about big money. As long as you let architects control your studies, you're going to get bigger and more expensive buildings. I'm told by someone who purports to know that Johnson County has hundreds of empty cells. Even if you doubled the cost to rent cells, you could farm out inmates for the next 20 years for the same or less money. Between the City's plan for a $30-$40 million police fortress plus personnel and the County's grand plan for doubling the size of the jail and building a mental health crisis center (5 to 10 times bigger than required) plus personnel, you're looking at $100 million all being funded primarily by property taxes. And still nobody is willing to bring in outside experts, who aren't salivating over multi-million dollar architectural fees, to figure out what we need to do in order to keep our courts from locking up inexplainably large numbers of people to poor to pay and relatively harmless misdemeanants. Take those out of the equation ( along with the mentally ill) and most of this expense goes away.

Francis Hunt 4 months ago

Jerry, the amount of misinformation and inaccuracies in your comment above is astonishing. Why don't you do your homework before you start spouting off? Talk about fake news, you've mastered it.

Benet Magnuson 4 months ago

Jerry Harper most definitely knows what he's talking about. Thank you, Jerry, for your service to our community.

Francis Hunt 4 months ago

No Benet he doesn't he just happens to agree with Kansas Appleseed of which you are the executive director. There have been stories done about the outside expert the county hired but since he doesn't agree with you and Jerry then his opinion doesn't count. There are empty cells in Johnson County but they don't have the staff available to allow them to fill those cells, Jerry should know that. Jerry likes to whine about the police "fortress" which if they had done it a few years ago it wouldn't be so expensive, same with the jail, if they had done it when they should have then it wouldn't be so expensive. The county commissioners royally screwed up by putting this off. Our city and county leaders kowtow to all of you anti-law enforcement, anti-jail people and it ends up costing all tax-payers more in the long run when they finally realize they can't appease you and they aren't meeting their obligations.

Larry Sturm 4 months ago

The longer the wait the more the cost will be. Just like the highway bypass from 10 to 12 million to 130 million plus.

David Holroyd 4 months ago

Deborah wants a mental heath facility for the taxpayers receive counseling and long term care.

Will it have a "safe room"?

HOW MUCH is the Treanor firm going to charge for their work?

Maybe it is time they donated . After all, they have been on the take for how many projects?

Care to name them any one...of course not. No one keeps records :)

David Holroyd 4 months ago

Records of taxpayer funded projects by Treanor.

Francis Hunt 4 months ago

David, I'm sure you would be one of the first to complain if the city was not supporting local business and was sending our tax dollars elsewhere. Why not support a nationally recognized business (that happens to be local) and keep those dollars in our community? I don't see you calling out every other business that the city hires and demanding that they donate their time/services what is your problem? In case you missed it in class the goal of a business is to provide a service and make money. If a business doesn't make money then they don't stay in business very long.

David Holroyd 4 months ago

No I would not complain. Don't you remeber it was Treanor that asked for freebies on Compton's construction downtown. You have a short memory.

The local architects are ripping the taxpayers a new one. you know what i mean.

Furthermore , the jail is nothing special . I bet they have standard plans just to doctor them up and make it look "special".

Are you a Treanor worker...I would call the other businesses out too. but it wouldn't do any good..Go ahead , vote for it but remember when they come back for more and more and eventually you will understand.

We do not have leaders in the community to scrutinize these projects...It is a blank check.

And I still think the firm could donate the fee toward the construction. take it or leave it...

Let's see didn't Treanor get the airport, library, is your memory refreshed a bit..prob not!

David Holroyd 4 months ago

How come the jail puts two women in a cell and not two men, Mr. Francis Hunt?

David Holroyd 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Isn't it interesting that not one person called me out on the library. See you don't even know who was the architect! It wasn't Treanor, it was Gould Evans..the public is so unknowing..

BUT's about the Capitol? Know where that is?..I'll help TOPEKA...that's where and guess who did some architect's work on it...

Keep guessing...the answer is right here in this thread.

See I knew most people don't even know what they read, but they see my name and just whine and then dine.

SAD...the minds in Lawrence... btw , how much was the fee for that bldg in TOPEKA...taxpayer funded...if you day to day have a bit of a pain you know where it might due to the FEE.

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