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County, city to meet on future jail strategies

Four different studies have been completed and will be discussed during a joint workshop Tuesday


For the past year, Crook County and the City of Prineville have worked together toward potentially building a new local jail.

The discussion was given new life after a decision to close Pioneer Memorial Hospital and build a new St. Charles Hospital facility in town prompted local leaders to consider the vacated hospital building for a new jail.

So far, four separate studies have been conducted regarding the possible retrofit, with most of the work examining the feasibility of the converting the building. Other facets of the studies have looked at the possibilities of building a new jail from scratch or increasing jail bed rentals from Jefferson County.

The city and county have held joint public meetings throughout the process and have chosen to do so again this coming Tuesday in hopes of developing a plan going forward.

“I’m hoping what gets covered is just a summary of what the feasibility studies have consisted of to date on the project,” said County Counsel Jeff Wilson. “My expectation is we would ... talk about what has occurred so far, what the findings of the different phases of the feasibility (studies) have been thus far, and what needs to happen to conclude that process.”

The phases up to this point have included a study whether a retrofit was economically feasible for the city and county; a jail bed needs analysis, an infrastructure analysis that examined the mechanical, electrical and structural integrity of the building; and, most recently, a cost benefit analysis of a long-term jail bed rental proposal submitted by Jefferson County.

“The purpose of that (cost benefit analysis) was to make sure that the county’s due diligence was complete in the sense that it also looked at other options, including Jefferson County’s proposal," said Wilson.

DSA Inc., which conducted the study, found that Crook County would still have to operate a book and hold facility if they rented more beds from Jefferson County, and the cost to do so will render any savings minimal.

Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe anticipates discussing the expense associated with transporting inmates to Jefferson County during the meeting as well as the concerns of citizens who live near the proposed jail site.

“What we hope to achieve (in the meeting) is to answer the questions of what the most economical way to have a justice department is,” she added.

A fifth and final feasibility study still remains, which Wilson said will likely look at the operational space needs for various criminal justice departments and jail operations, currently and as far as 20 years into the future.

“I think the primary focus of the meeting with the city will be whether or not to go forward with that programming phase,” he said.

Roppe said the upcoming meeting will give people a chance to find out what the current plans are regarding the jail and provide them an opportunity to ask questions and provide input. She went on to stress that this won’t be the final chance for the public to weigh in.

“We will have public forums in the future to answer all of their questions, but if they want to come and listen to the discussion, that would be great,” she said.

The joint Prineville City Council and Crook County Court work session regarding local jail plans will be held on Tuesday, July 22, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., in the Prineville City Hall Council Chambers.



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