The Scotts Bluff County Commissioners have decided to build another 132 bed pod on the east side of their current detention center to alleviate overcrowding that has put them on the brink of being out of compliance with state jail standards.
Board Chair Mark Masterton Monday evening said construction of the additional pod was necessary as the board faced an estimated $700,000 annual bill to transport and hold prisoners at other jails while keeping its own facility at 90% capacity and barely within state guidelines.
Masterton said the county has recently paid for as many as 81 inmates to be housed at other jails and it made more sense to use that money for construction of the new pod, which will give the detention center 320 maximum beds. It also will mean the county will not have to use a bond issue to build the second pod, which has an estimated cost of $11 million.
At their next meeting the commissioners expect to hire the same architect that built the first 188 bed pod, with the tentative timeline calling for construction to start early next spring and completion in the spring of 2018.
Juvenile housing will remain closed until the new housing unit is finished, at which time the board will consider a separate 6 bed juvenile facility for any future needs.
Prior to the opening of the new facility, the county will continue to work with local judges, prosecutors and law enforcement to get more people on recognizance bonds, house arrest, or work programs to pay off fines rather than sitting in jail.