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home : news : news Sunday, May 1, 2016

7/20/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Commission recommends Shive Hattery for jail needs assessment

By Jeremy Huss
Staff writer

A committee assigned to evaluate proposals for a jail needs assessment as part of the planning process for a new county jail is recommending awarding the contract to Shive Hattery of West Des Moines following interviews with four firms Wednesday, July 17.

Brian McKenrick, coordinator for the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission (CCJCC), made the announcement at the July 18 meeting of the Clinton County Board of Supervisors.

The study will determine the number and types of beds a new jail will need, how they can be configured and how large the facility needs to be based on the volume of inmates.

The study also will include pre-architectural planning and design work for a new communications center and Clinton police department that may be incorporated into a new jail.

The cost of the study will be $47,106, the lowest of the four finalists, and it is scheduled to be complete by Oct. 31.

"So I think we're going to end up with a very good product at a very good price," McKenrick said.

McKenrick said discussion of a new jail began years ago when overcrowding was costing the county hundreds of thousands of dollars to transport and hold inmates at jails in neighboring counties.

The CCJCC was created in 2009 and has taken steps to reduce the jail population, improve efficiency and reduce costs, however, the facility itself is in decline and needs to be replaced, McKenrick said.

"Our current facility has run its useful life," he stated.

"This past April was a good indicator why we need a new facility," said jail administrator Craig Eberhart, referring to two inmate escapes and a serious assault on a correctional officer from which the employee still is recovering.

"It's an old building. It's very labor intensive for staff . . . It's a very dangerous environment we have for our staff working there," Eberhart said.

Jail staff constantly are moving inmates around the facility to go to the exercise yard or meet with visitors, he said, but at a modern facility, "Everything can be done at the housing unit."

The 44-year-old facility "looks lovely on the outside, but on the inside it's dying," Eberhart said.

"It's an obsolete design that exposes staff to a lot of unnecessary safety risks and exposes inmates to unnecessary safety risks," McKenrick added.

County supervisor Jill Davisson noted staff at the sheriff's office, located beneath the jail, must cover their desks with tarps to prevent damage to equipment from inmates who clog toilets, causing them to flood the offices below.

A modern jail would include a master control allowing employees to shut down the plumbing system to prevent flooding, McKenrick said.

Construction of a new jail likely would require the county to issue bonds to secure the funding, a move that would require a countywide vote.


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