Douglas County to hold first town hall meeting on jail expansion project

Douglas County is inviting the public to participate in the first of a series of town hall meetings to solicit feedback on a proposed county jail expansion and the construction of a mental health crisis intervention center.

The meeting will run from 6-7:30 p.m. March 23 in the commission chambers at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St.

The meeting will focus on elements of the local criminal justice system, specifically “the Douglas County correctional facility, its role in the criminal justice system and the affect other community services have on its operation,” according to a press release.

County officials, including Sheriff Ken McGovern, will participate.

“We think the appropriate starting place to coming up with solutions is to seek input from the public,” said County Administrator Craig Weinaug. “And based on those public meetings, we will come up with recommendations and specific ideas to meet those needs.”

According to county data, inmate populations for women, maximum security inmates and special-needs inmates, including those with mental health problems, are nearing capacity. Officials have said they must provide better mental health care as well.

The county is researching the scope of the project and what needs must be met. County officials estimate the project’s cost at $20 million to $30 million. County commissioners have not yet decided how to raise funds.