Coming up with the best solution to jail overcrowding in Utah County won't be simple, but forming the Utah County Criminal Justice Advisory Board will hopefully make it that much easier, Sheriff Dave Bateman says.
"We want to get the community involved," he said. "The board will help in the decisionmaking process and in the evaluation of materials presented (in the master plan)."Edwards and Daniels, a Salt Lake architectural firm, was awarded the $60,000 contract last month to provide planning and direction for present and future needs at the jail.
The firm will develop a 20-year master plan aimed at alleviating jail space problems. The study will look at existing jail facilities, the site and inmate use.
Bateman hopes the board will get a broad perspective of the problem and arrive at a solution in the best interest of the county as a whole, he said.
He met with members of the county's Council of Governments Thursday and said the group designated at least one member to serve on the board. Salem Mayor Randy Brailsford and Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins were recommended.
Bateman suggested Jenkins serve on the board because the jail will probably be in Provo.
The 15- to 20-member board will also include representatives from various segments of the criminal-justice system - the county attorney's office, representatives from the courts, the Utah Bar, public defenders, chiefs of police, the Utah County Commission, representatives from the private sector, the news media, the county engineering office, the sheriff's department and Department of Corrections.
Bateman said the board will most likely be complete by June 26 and will then meet periodically for as long as three years - the time it may take to get to the construction phase.
"Edwards and Daniels will act as our consultant to study various alternatives that appear to be feasible," Bateman said. "They will bring those to us in a series of reports and we will study them and formulate the best alternative that we can as a group and make a recommendation to the County Commission."
The recommendation will form the basis for the Request For Proposal that would be submitted to various architectural firms to begin design of the facility, he said.
"Right now the federal court system is clogged with corrections and jail-related issues," Bateman said. "Many of them are associated with overcrowding problems.
"Our jail was built to house 125 inmates. We have expanded somewhat, but on a routine basis we are exceeding our capacity. The liability potential to the county becomes tremendous."
The liability potential will be mitigated if the county has a plan to resolve the problems and shows that it is cognizant to them, Bateman said.
The present jail was built in 1978.