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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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5/7/2012 6:02:00 PM
New Prescott jail on horizon; county supervisors give green light
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors at its meeting on Monday gave the green light to Sheriff Scott Mascher to proceed with plans to build a new jail, a project that will take four to five years to complete and could, by one supervisor's estimates, cost about $12 million.

The Prescott jail, on Gurley Street, was closed in 2009 as a cost-saving measure. That hasn't been as successful as county officials had hoped. The cost of transporting prisoners to and from the county jail in Camp Verde for daily court appearances has been expensive, said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

About 67 percent of the approximately 545 inmates housed at Camp Verde need to be moved to and from the courthouse in Prescott, Mascher said.

Other area law enforcement agencies have seen their expenses rise as a result, because they often have to transport prisoners to Camp Verde.

The costs are currently offset by rentals of some of the 644 beds at Camp Verde to other agencies, but that money can't be guaranteed over the long run, said Mascher, and if the beds are needed by the county, they wouldn't be available for rental.

"We're relying on that (money)," Mascher said. "We're counting on it."

"Things change," said Chairman Tom Thurman, district 2, "so all of a sudden that revenue stream (from bed rentals) could dry up."

The Prescott jail currently is used on a part-time basis, 12 hours a day, for bookings.

A 1998 U.S. Department of Justice report said the Prescott jail had several significant problems, including problems with inmate security, and deficiencies in the building itself, such that it would be impractical to bring the 135-bed jail into compliance.

"It's substandard," D'Evelyn said. "Inadequate."

Mascher offered a plan to add a new jail near the new Juvenile Justice Center on county property off Prescott Lakes Parkway, about four miles north of downtown. The new facility would start at 120 beds and could be expanded to 240 - or more - if necessary.

Supervisors agreed that an architect should be hired and begin to develop plans for the new jail.

Supervisor Carol Springer, district 1, said it costs about $100,000 a bed to build a jail, so the 120-bed version would ballpark out to around $12 million, an amount she said the county could afford.

There's not a huge rush to get the facility built, added D'Evelyn, because "the (jail) population has stayed fairly stable and as a result we're not maxed out."

But even if there wasn't a need for the beds in five years or so, he pointed out, "the fact that we could house more inmates here (in Prescott) would increase the contract bed space and the revenue stream, so there's a payoff."

D'Evelyn said that the plans include converting the Gurley Street jail into office space for county agencies once the new jail is complete.

The board also authorized Mascher to start 24-hour, 7-day-a-week booking and holding at the Gurley Street jail in July, when the new fiscal year begins.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: pablo noname

Only $12 million, lets get two!!!!!!!!!!
@bubba gump, they will need the newer, bigger jail to house the next generation of criminals that cannot read, write or get a job. I think I am moving.


Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: Button Square Pants

I think it's a great idea, it'll free up a ton of beds in Verde and make room for the illegals therefore more money for the county and it'll also save a ton of money on daily transportation costs for the majority of inmates...

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: bubba_ gump

$2m was cut on the education budget...hooray for priorities!

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: @ David Kline

The courts are primarily in Prescott. We need a new jail here because it is too costly and time-consuming to transport inmates arrested here to the Verde, and from the Verde to court in Prescott.

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: our jobs jobs

If it is built the work that it creates won't even go to people that live in this area. They will hire an out of town or state contractor that will use out of town or state subcontractors. As seen in many other projects. Why can't we pump this money in to our area instead of another.

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: Dan feed up

Only 120 beds!! i bet we still will have to transport inmate to court back and forth. This is dumb. Where is this money coming from? New county building everywhere. A new court house in camp Verde that is all most empty. Crazy, please think before spending every penny. You county supervisors need to look better at ideas when people come to you for my money.

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: Citi Zen

All of the problems with closing the Prescott jail were PREDICTED before it happened. The outrageous costs and other obvious issues were a given, but the county forged ahead regardless of any rational arguments against the idea.

Does anyone know why the board authorized the re-opening of the Gurley street jail as a 24/7 operation despite all the terrible "deficiencie"s? How can that be? What about the famed Dept. of Justice "report"? Despite the fact that such a "report" isn't worth the paper it's printed on (ANY DOJ study of ANY detention facility will find "problems"...duh), it seems odd that we are told both that the jail can now run 24/7 just fine but that 12 million wouldn't be enough to refit it.


Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: David Kline

The county just went to the cost of building a great big courts building in the Verde, Why are we building another jail in Prescott if the courts are in the Verde?

If the current system is not over crowded, and there is no need for the additional beds, why are we building another jail?


Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: Split 'em Up!

Put the felons in Camp Verde seeing as their cases are heard there and the misdemeanors in Prescott where those cases are heard

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: pity prescott folks

prescott voters don't have what it takes to stand up for what's best , , , , , can't stand up against the board of supervisors. . . . poor folks . . . . . pity really

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: Way to Go, County Supes!

First off, this was not a decision made by the City Council of Prescott, but by the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors.

Now, I've never been a detention officer (DO) or an inmate, but I do seem to recall reading pre-Verde articles that indicated the safety of both groups was compromised by the overcrowded, antiquated Prescott jail?

I suppose the supervisors could have, for a hefty price, slathered lipstick on that old pig of a jail downtown. They could've thrown money at it, polished it up and proclaimed it "improved". But what of its unmitigatable problems, like insufficient volume and nowhere to grow?

As to employment via nepotism? Being a DO sure doesn't strike me as so desirable a prize that anyone would risk their own position to pave the way for a relative to become one. Frankly, you couldn't pay me enough to perform the duties of COPS, The Sequel. Honestly, how many of us could tolerate a steady diet of the drunk, the mentally unstable and the combative? Hats off to those who can.

Ironically, some who decry the new Prescott jail also say of criminals, "Lock 'em up and throw away the key!" You can't have it both ways, folks.

Personally, I'm of the "lock 'em up" persuasion and consider the new jail a long overdue necessity.


Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: prescott jail

Really use the jail as is and save 12 million...It was good for 20 years it will be good for another 20. Inmates need nothing but a pillow, blanket and some nice hard concrete to lie on. Maybe they will think twice about their crimes and wanting to do time. I am so tired of goverment spending on these people. There are people working a 40 hour week that do not have the comforts of a inmate.

As far as security...cops have guns and taser. use them. Once again maybe it will deter people from wanting to visit the jail.


Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: Home Renter

Yes,Yes,Yes.................

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: Keep Your Eye On This One

There's absolutely no way a 120 bed jail facility can be built this day and age for only $12 million. That sounds like a lot of money, but it's not when it comes to constructing new jail facilities.

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: john Rollo

How is it one minute we are set on an austerity program and the next we are building a twelve million dollar prison facility. And my goodness why is this regressive state so hell bent on prisons and filling them to capacity. Enough with your stinking laws.

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: Fix It and They Will Come

We did nothing to prevent the Camp Verde Jail into the creature it has become. However, we need not make the same mistake again in having yet another jail built.
The Board serves the voters and if they desire to keep their positions they must recognize and acknowledge whom they serve and that would be us, people!
The only thing wrong with the Gurley Street Jail is nothing more then people's hysteria. Its had many up grades and would serve the inmates and staff just fine.
The Camp Verde Jail was not only a HUGH expensive mistake but it was a punishment directed at us voters.
And need I remind the Board three precious lives were lost en-route to work at the Camp Verde Jail. Can't believe that would've happened if that creature wasn't built.
Now, if the Board once again insist on ignoring us voters regarding building this new jail house then perhaps the Gurley Street Jail can be used to house the homeless which might cut down on crime thus saving us tax payers further expense in housing inmates.


Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: Is the City being resourceful or making another mistake?

Reading words like "substandard" and "inadequate" sound like excuses to not find create ways to update the existing jai structure. I'm certain for a fraction of the $12 million dollar allocated to this project would fix those problems and save the City a bundle. Closing the old Gurley Street Jail has proven to be a mistake, everyone apart from those who suggested that arrangement said it wouldn't work out well, and surprise, it hasn't. Here's a suggestion, why not make improvements to the existing jail that would make more sense considering this poor little City is broke. Investing millions of dollars on a new jail sounds like a horrible fiscal decision. A remodel would would be less of a financial burden, plus the time to complete it would mean it could be back up and running quickly. Do the Board of Supervisors ever consider creative options? Building a new jail sounds much like the horrible mistake of closing the old fairground only to build a costly, poor planned, mismanaged, bankrupt and empty multi million dollar monstrosity that nobody wants to buy. Who knows who made away with all of the cash from that project. I'm all for moving the jail back to Prescott, but since we already have one, why not utilize what is already there? And while we are at it, why not make plans to repair the old fairgrounds so that the Worlds Oldest Rodeo can be held where it should have been all along. Those repairs could be done in time for the rodeo and the County Fair. If the track has issues, bring in fill dirt and get the project started.
I support our sheriff department, and realize closing the jail was a bad move. But building a new jail sounds even worse considering the economic considerations. It seems like this is another bad plan that will come back to haunt us in the future.


Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: Can't take it much longer

Iím confused. In November of 2008 the Jail District needed a tax increase in order to keep two jails operating and when the voters told Sheriff Waugh to shove it, he showed us by shutting down the Prescott jail. Now, his unelected successor, Sheriff Mascher, is getting a brand new Prescott jail that presumably CAN operate within the Jail District budget? Call me crazy, but I smell a tax increase in the future.

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: Jack May

If you must build a redundant jail, please build it near the water reclamation plant on Sundog Ranch Road. Every day when the huge morning surge of waste enters the plant it produces a very distinct aroma. This aroma would help stimulate the nostrils of all the losers who are sitting on their behinds and eating their tax payer provided continental breakfasts.

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: Clay Starin

To save money and officers time, Build a jail with the courts in the same area, this would take care of the cost of transporting prisoners to court and take less man power to get them there. The courts need to be up dated and the court house is getting to old to handle all the traffic, the could be a safety factor for all.......

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: how about-

How about closing ALL the recovery houses here in Prescott? I'd sure be interested in stats which indicate how many of these felons are from out of state and how many are fallout from the "recovery" business which makes a few wealthy while shredding our community with violence.



Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: Joe Unick

Well, What happen to the jail district tax that was passed in 2000? That was to solve all the jail problems. Just look in pass papers and read all the BS.

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: Bo Zholay

Jobs! For relatives of judges and court clerks!

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: Clement R.

Wouldn't be a lot cheaper to have the judges and maybe even the staff commute to Camp Verde for court? For heaven's sake you could build a small apartment complex for them to stay in while they're up there.

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Article comment by: keen observer

This is an outrage. The original shift to the expensive Verde facility was caused by a feud between the county sheriff and Prescott police chief. Both long since gone. It had nothing to do with law enforcement, with the suitability of the Prescott facility, or efficient use of taxpayer dollars. The constant to-and-fro shuttling of prisoners and staff has been costly and time consuming.

Now the supervisors want to go ahead with yet another Prescott jail to replace the facility which
was modern at the time it was abandoned.
Stop! Do the supervisors have any sense of
cost efficiency? Do they recognize that this area is hurting and that there are many other public needs going unmet? This is our money.
Stop being so careless with it.



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