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Jail price tag increases $1.1M PDF Print E-mail
Written by Denise Freitag Burdette   
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 10:34 PM

Click here to view a copy of the presentation.

Click here to view part one of video of the presentation

In November 2011, Dearborn County council passed a motion, 4-2, to fund the latest proposed county jail expansion and renovation.

At that time, the cost was estimated between $8.3 and $9.3 million, pushing off other possible expansion elements to the future.

But during a special meeting held Monday, Nov. 26, county commissioners voted 2-1 to support a new design recommended by county jail committee members that includes additional beds and a higher price tag of $10.4 million.

About 15 people from the public attended the special meeting with four asking questions about the project.
Commissioners Tom Orschell and Shane McHenry voted in favor of a design that includes a 144-bed addition in addition to a shell for future expansion. The jail currently has 216 beds.

Two other design options also were presented by Mark VanAllen of architecture firm Rosser International. One included an additional 120 beds for $9.3 million, while another was a 208 bed addition for $11.2 million.

The design presented by RQAW Consulting Engineers to commissioners and council members in November 2011, would have added 120 beds, with the ability to add another 78 in the future.

Based on what was presented during the Nov. 26 meeting, McHenry made a motion to recommend the 144-bed expansion to council for funding.

No one wants to spend more money, but you don’t want to just put a Band-Aid on the problem, said McHenry.

The 144-bed option, with the shell for possible additional expansion in the future, will make it easier to fix any future overcrowding issues.

“At least if we solve our problem now, you can have that area if you need it down the line. And, it’s a lot easier to fix if it needs fixed, or if we don’t need that space for 40 years, and hopefully we don’t. It’s kind of there if we need it, while we’re in there building it’s going to come to a less cost than it’s going to be in the future, because prices are only going to go through the roof,” said McHenry.

Orschell, who said during the regular Wednesday, Nov. 7, commissioner meeting, he would not vote on the jail design issues, explained why he changed his mind.

Previously he stated he would not vote on a design after losing his bid of re-election, to allow the two new commissioners taking over in January the chance to make their own decisions on the issue. Hughes did not run for re-election.

When he first took office as commissioner, he was not sure if the jail expansion and renovation was needed. But through his extensive research, he came to the conclusion it is needed, said Orschell.

“One of the duties of the county commissioners is to provide adequate space and a safe working environment, and through my research we do not have it. And that is why I think this project is important and I think if we don’t go forward there will be consequences,” he said.

He then acknowledged that during the Nov. 7 commissioner meeting he stated he would not vote on a jail design because he did not want to bind the new commissioners to his decision.

“But since then, I have had many sessions with commissioner-elect Kevin Lynch, gave him all my information, he asked all the questions, he studied it, ... and Kevin is here tonight,” said Orschell.
Orschell then asked Lynch to share his thoughts on the proposed jail expansion/renovation.

After meeting with Orschell and others about the project, Lynch said he came to the realization that there is a need for the jail project.

“I believe the committee has done a tremendous job. ... It’s a lot of money. I don’t care who you are, it’s a lot of money. So to make sure we do it right the first time, you don’t get do-overs on something of this scope. ... I like the committee’s recommendation of 144 beds, personally. I like the flexibility to grow out,” said Lynch.

“I can’t in good conscience vote for this,” said commissioner president Jeff Hughes.

Although Hughes has said there is a jail overcrowding issue, he noted the cost is more than a lot of people can afford on their taxes.

He would like to look at all aspects of the justice system to find solutions to the overcrowding.

“We need to get to the root cause of it,” said Hughes.

He also mentioned other factors that may impact the number of people in the jail in the future, including the new casino opening in Cincinnati.

Statistically full
Dearborn County administrator Terri Randall said the jail committee members worked hard to provide a recommendation, including visiting other jails in the area and a lot of debate and discussion.

“Everybody involved with a need gave up something along the way,” said Randall.

The jail committee consists of Mike Kreinhop, Dearborn County sheriff; Dave Lusby, chief deputy; Dave Hall, jail commander; Tom Orschell, county commissioner; Dennis Kraus Sr., county council president; Jim Hughes, county council member; Eric Hartman, county facilities director; Terri Randall, county administrator; Bryan Messmore, prosecutor’s representative (also a county council member); Shavonne Mehlbauer, Women’s JCAP Coordinator; Brad Rullman, Maxwell Construction Project Manager; Jeff Lyness, Maxwell Construction vice president, and Mark VanAllen, Rosser International lead architect.

Scott Moore, a justice designer and architect at Integrus Architecture, then gave a presentation on inmate population projections.

The projections were based on four categories of historical analysis, county population, county community corrections offenders served, Indiana Department of Corrections admissions from the county and average daily jail population of the current jail.

Average daily jail population for the county jail shows an 8 percent growth from 2005 to 2010. But he believes future growth will be closer to 12 percent, said Moore.

According to the presentation, the 8 percent growth “can be artificially low due to reduced jail bed availability and alternates to incarceration.”

The jail staff is currently using every corner that they have, said Moore.

At an estimated 8 percent growth rate, even with a 144-bed addition, the jail would be statistically full by 2020. The jail with a 144-bed addition would be statistically in 2018 full with a projected 12 percent growth rate, he said.

“I recommend you construct the 208-bed option,” said Moore.

“I also recommend you create a multidisciplinary committee to continue to examine inmate population after you open the new jail just to make sure that you don’t have the sheriff coming to you a year from now going, ‘I don’t have anymore beds you guys. I’m full already,’” he said.

But Hughes said he does not think the statistical data goes far enough.

“You really have to look at the whole justice system. ... Is there a jail overcrowding problem? Yes. ... We really don’t know about the root cause of it,” said Hughes.

VanAllen then walked through the different design options.

The base design was the additional 120 beds. There were brainstorming sessions with the committee members. They wanted to build in a lot of flexibility. Everything is dormitory style with a central control station, said VanAllen.

Looking at the design for the 144-bed addition, the blue area would be a shell that could be used for more beds in the future, he said.

A few questions
When the commissioners opened the meeting to public comments, questions included how much operational expenses would increase with the expansion and renovation.

Orschell said the expanded jail was expected to stay staff neutral. Randall, however, said the jail committee was not asked to research a projection on additional operational costs.

Aurora resident Judy Howard asked if the increased cost would mean the jail project, by law,  would have to go to a ballot vote.

Hughes said, no, that figure would be $12 million, but council could choose for the issue to be voted on in a referendum.
The issue also would not go to referendum if riverboat gambling money is used to fund the project instead of property taxes.

Howard said she thinks the issue should be voted on by the public.

“I think so, but that is my opinion. I am not a county councilman,” said Hughes.

Lawrenceburg Township resident Christine Mueller asked if statistics were available for the county’s JCAP program, which has designated space in the jail.

According the Dearborn County Sherriff’s Department website, the Jail Chemical Addictions Program “addresses drug and alcohol addiction in our community by targeting those in jail. This program promotes accountability and responsibility.”

In a written statement, Mueller noted, “We should ask why we are building an expansion of the JCAP programs into the jail with no data other than anecdotal evidence like letters regarding the measurement of the success of that program. Why expand a program at taxpayer expense, without knowing how to measure success with actual data?”

She also questioned statistics showing decreased bookings since 2005, while the average daily population in the jail increased.

The recommended jail design now goes to county council.

A special meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 11, with a probable start time of 6:30 p.m. at the county administration building, 215B W. High St., Lawrenceburg.

Last Updated on Friday, December 21, 2012 7:19 AM