By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — Aware of the current jail's inadequacies, Clinton County officials hope a needs assessment study will shed light on what they need to have a suitable county correctional facility.
The Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission on Friday issued a request for proposal for a jail needs assessment and consulting services.
"This is a big piece in the jail planning process. It's a very long process. So, this will get the ball rolling," Justice Coordinating Commission Coordinator Brian McKenrick said. "We're looking to hire a consultant to come in, advise us based on our jail population, how we've stabilized it over the past several years. Now we can project out what our jail bed needs will be over the next 20, 25 years."
The current jail, which was built in 1969, has 44 beds, including a six bed work release area. There are an additional 10 beds available as temporary housing for less than 24 hours.
In 2012, the jail had 1,865 bookings with an average daily population of 38.63, the lowest it has been in nearly a decade.
Clinton County Sheriff Rick Lincoln said the jail's declining population is the result of a concerted effort on the part of people involved in the county's justice system.
"We have wrung the efficiencies out of the system," Lincoln said. "In other words, everyone who is in jail, needs to be in jail."
Even with the lower population, the jail structure does not meet the county's standards. A 2008 study by the National Institute of Corrections identified a number of deficiencies with the structure itself, regardless of population.
"We know the jail is inadequate," Lincoln said. "I want some good projections so we can have a conversation with our citizens to tell them what we need and why."
Firms will need to break their submissions into four packages. The first package will be the jail needs assessment. The selected consultant will examine the current jail population as well as the growth and crime trends, law changes and other factors that could affect how many offenders will be detained in the jail and the length of their stays.
The consultant will also need to study the inmate population, including race, ethnicity and gender demographics. This information will be used when developing the design for what will be needed in the county jail.
The chosen firm will forecast facility capacity requirements in five-year increments for a minimum of 20 years. The forecast will be broken down to show the space needed for the different inmate areas such as intake, infirmary and housing areas. The consultant should make a similar forecast for the sheriff's office and include the costs related to what is forecast.
The second package is for facility development consulting services.
The third and fourth packages call for the consultant to examine consolidation with other emergency agencies. First, the consultant will look at the communications center including the possibility of a joint-use facility between the sheriff's office and the communications center.
The consultant will also be asked to review the 2003 space needs assessment of the Clinton Police Department and identify potential areas for consolidation if a joint city-county project were pursued.
"If there are efficiencies with this project we want to explore those," McKenrick said.
The Justice Coordinating Commission has budgeted for the study for a number of fiscal years, with the unused funds returned to the general fund. The commission also has budgeted money for the study this year, although it will not know how much it will cost until the proposals are received May 31.
Once the study is complete, McKenrick said county officials can move forward with a clearer vision for the jail.
"When this is complete, we will have a better idea what size of a facility and cost so we can go to the voters with a more concrete idea of what we need," McKenrick said. "We're not locked into anything that comes out of the study. We're exploring and getting more information to do outreach and get feedback from the citizens."
The layout The current jail, which was built in 1969, has 44 beds, including a six bed work release area. There are an additional 10 beds available as temporary housing for less than 24 hours.