Archive for Thursday, April 6, 2006

County jail assessed strong

April 6, 2006

It appears that if Eudora's population continues to boom, the Douglas County Jail will be ready.

Last month jail administrators agreed to have their site assessed by consultants from the National Institute of Corrections to find what exactly it was doing right and what it could improve upon.

"(Consultants) were here to do an assessment of our facility from two standpoints," Undersheriff of Corrections Kenny Massey said. "One was to look at our overcrowding situa

tions ---- our jail population has been steadily increasing ---- and the other was to look at our re-entry options for our inmates who leave the facility."

By and large the consultants reviewed the facility favorably, Massey said.

"The big part of the assessment where we were really glad to hear, is that we really have right now all the components in place and working within the facility that can help us get to where we want to be in the re-entry program," Massey said.

The fact the jail has both mental and physical health opportunities for the inmates helped, Massey said.

"We just have a lot of things in place that will really aid the inmates once they leave here and go back into the community," Massey said.

Massey said the jail operates as a 192-bed facility depending on the inmates.

In conjunction with the jail, there are 503 beds for inmates participating in a work-release program.

"There's just a lot of dynamics that govern the amount of inmates we can hold," Massey said.

The study also helped give the jail some light on its overcrowding problems, Massey said.

"The assessment was very, very beneficial. We discovered some things I think we can do internally that we'll be able to use to help the overcrowding situation," Massey said.

The assessment helped jail administrators discover ways they could be flexible in moving inmates around the facility, Massey said.

The undersheriff said the facility also received high marks for its physical structure.

"The facility, for being built in 1999, is still operating at a very high level," Massey said. "Our facility is very clean and is very quiet, which the consultants will tell you the moment they walk into the facility it's the first thing they look for ---- the noise and the cleanliness."

Massey said both facilities passed with flying colors on that aspect.

"Overall, we ranked very high according to the consultants that were here," he said.

Massey said with some changes, the jail could handle Eudora and Lawrence's potential growth.

"The growth right now, if we can implement this re-entry program and work with the criminal justice system and figure out a way to streamline some of the detainees' court cases through the system, maybe for a little quicker turnaround, that will help alleviate some of the overcrowding we experience from time to time," Massey said.

The center's review wasn't completely positive. Massey said the jail could work on some of its front-end procedures.

Massey said the consultants found the jail could benefit from better jail management software.

He said the jail is working with the current system to find statistics needed to identify a program that would be the best fit for the jail.

"We're starting that process now," Massey said.

Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty and Eudora Police Chief Greg Dahlem both attended presentations on the assessment. The city entered into a formal agreement with the jail several months ago.

"They wanted to know if we were satisfied with everything to date, and we said 'yes,'" Beatty said.

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