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home : latest news : latest news April 15, 2014


2/4/2013 10:32:00 PM
New Prescott jail's future appears murky
Scott Orr/The Daily Courier
YCSO Capt. Brian Hunt points out a security camera to supervisors Jack Smith and Tom Thurman during their tour of the Gurley Street jail Monday.
Scott Orr/The Daily Courier
YCSO Capt. Brian Hunt points out a security camera to supervisors Jack Smith and Tom Thurman during their tour of the Gurley Street jail Monday.
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - In a study session held at Prescott's Gurley Street jail location Monday, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors hashed out what it would take to build a new jail in Prescott.

The old jail, located above the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, is currently used for booking prisoners and holding them for court appearances, but not for holding them overnight. The aging facility came under fire in 1998, when a U.S. Department of Justice report said it had several significant problems, including problems with inmate security, and deficiencies in the building itself, such that it would be impractical to bring the jail into compliance.

In response, the county built an all-new jail in Camp Verde.

Monday, the board toured the jail to see the problems first-hand. YCSO Captain Brian Hunt led them through the claustrophobic hallways of a facility he said was "state-of-the- art 30 years ago." He described once getting into a physical fight with an inmate in an area where no one could see the fight or hear him call for help.

Overcrowding was always an issue, Hunt said, and shoehorning 300 inmates into a 135-bed facility often led to violence.

When they wrapped up the tour, they sat down to discuss the realities of building a new jail in Prescott.

The current jail in Camp Verde, built to replace the Gurley Street facility, does the job it was intended to do, but as Sheriff Scott Mascher pointed out, 69 percent of the inmates need to be transported, via a 50-minute bus or van trip, for court appearances in Prescott.

"We need to focus on getting a jail here in Prescott," Mascher told the board.

The problem is cost. The initial cost to build the jail is one problem, but the approximately $5 million to run it is equally difficult to cover.

The accepted price for a 120-bed jail was about $12 million, which the board, in May 2012, felt it could bankroll. But since then, Mascher has decided that a 240-bed jail would be needed, and several other agencies have requested that they have facilities included as well, which has made the price skyrocket to a possible $20 million.

No way that's going to happen, Supervisor Tom Thurman said. "We don't have $20 million. We have $19 million in the bank, and I won't spend every dime of it. I won't do that."

Suggestions tossed out included cutting back on the building's extra features, as well as the possibility of asking the voters for a bond issue - an idea which generated very little enthusiasm.

Supervisor Rowle Simmons said, "I want to see us get started here. These discussions have been going on for so long.

"Construction costs are going to start going back up big-time, and we have flittered away some of the best construction time in the history of this county," he added.

The board asked Mascher to assemble a list of what features the jail would need at a minimum, so it could take that to an architect to get a real-world estimate of the cost.

If it is built, the county will need to find the money to operate the new jail.

"All that will have to come from the (county's) general fund," Mascher said.

And while the YCSO makes considerable income from renting empty beds at the Camp Verde jail to other agencies, and the open beds that would result from moving the prisoners would open up more beds for rentals, those agencies won't guarantee they'll fill them.

"I can't get a contract from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) on these bed rentals," Mascher said.

And the number they have been renting is dropping, due to what he called a "downturn in the arrest of illegal aliens for deportation."

Chairman Chip Davis, playing devil's advocate, said, "So you're better off not having a new jail, by the numbers."

YCSO Chief Deputy John Russell asked a chilling question near the end of the meeting.

"What happens if one of those buses with 40 inmates in it (traveling from Camp Verde to Prescott and back) goes off the road and rolls?" Russell asked. "What's that going to cost the county?"



Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, February 09, 2013
Article comment by: @ NO IDEA

"You people have no idea what you're talking about.

1) People ARE arraigned using video conferencing already. That is not a new idea.

2) The SUPERIOR Court is a state court. The county doesn't decide where Superior court judges go. Anyone charged with a felony must appear in the superior court.

3) There is already a division of the superior court in the Verde. It cannot handle the case load by itself."

You sir do not know what you speak of. Video court is used for many different things besides just arraignments. Also, if there is a felony it goes to a Justice Court (Prescott or Verde Valley Justice) not directly to the Superior Court.

Also you people do not realize that you already voted for this jail tax in the 90's. Ya'll voted for the half cent tax and the board only charged a quarter cent.... No one will be taking money that you have not already said was ok to take...


Posted: Thursday, February 07, 2013
Article comment by: Brian Boru

How come Smith didn't get badge?

Posted: Thursday, February 07, 2013
Article comment by: barth gimble

Do I see a badge on Thurman's lapel?

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: r b

Way to go Capt. Hunt, Front Page!

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Concerned Taxpayer

600 inmates in the jail? Really? How many of those in jail are Ice holds or bed rentals or for Verde courts? There is a new huge court house in the Verde. Very nice one in fact with all the bells and whistles. I do agree it would be nice to have a jail in Prescott, but if there's no money, there's no money. Not sure I understand why the Superior court Judges can't run business in the Verde. It's all the same county. I know from past experience many of the court personnel who live in Prescott hate the commute. Not sure if there is a solution right now and I finally agree with Mr. Thurman on something.

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: How to double bed capacity at no cost to taxpayers

It's 2013.

Why are we building costly jails, that need to be heated and cooled, staffed with guards, nurses, doctors, cooks, custodians, etc. It's nonsense.

Half of the prisoners at the county jail aren't violent. Petty crimes. Low risk. Otis Campbell types.

What we should do is get those "safe" prisoners on GPS ankle-bracelets. Average cost is $8.00/day. Make the prisoners pay for their own bracelets. Computers do most of the work - an alarm goes off when they stray to forbidden or distant places. Instead of an entire 24/7 staff - 1 or 2 computer nerds monitor all movements.

It's been done very successfully and proven to be cost efficient throughout the USA.

Let's say 300 inmates go on the GPS units - that frees up 300 beds. You've doubled the capacity of the existing jail.

And if you're on an ankle bracelet, you're responsible to get yourself to court. No buses or county chauffeurs with guards.

Wake up Yavapai County Supervisors.

Last week you said you couldn't see any fat - well, here's a recipe for some pork savings.


Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: How Dare The Board of Supervisors

Seems that Reader Comment from James Tobin has the answer...I opt for his solution. No new jail!

And since the BOS knew of the circumstances regarding jurisdiction of Courts, Judges, inmates, they need to be brought to Court for their misuse of power and building a jail in Camp Verde knowing all the circumstances...let us get rid of all of them next election. How dare they dupe the taxpaying voting public!

The Public is fed up...we are NOT going to stand for a new jail...best adapt facilities and circumstances that we now know can work. Get your heads out of where the sun doesn't shine BOS!!! What a disgrace.to the public!


Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Get Er Done

Well there you go, thanks Mr No Idea. Why did you wait to chime in until now, now we all look stupid. Haha

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: No Idea

You people have no idea what you're talking about.

1) People ARE arraigned using video conferencing already. That is not a new idea.

2) The SUPERIOR Court is a state court. The county doesn't decide where Superior court judges go. Anyone charged with a felony must appear in the superior court.

3) There is already a division of the superior court in the Verde. It cannot handle the case load by itself.


Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Carl Imparel

More executions would be nice...

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Get Er Done

Tony,

There is a sprawling 10 million dollar court complex sitting right next door to the jail in Camp Verde already... FYI


Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Get Er Done

Judges cannot just travel to Camp Verde for court in lieu of transporting prisoners to Prescott, there is a boundary issue with that. The same would be had with a Judge from Flagstaff coming to Camp Verde to officiate over a trial, he's out of his jurisdiction. When you are arrested in a particular town, that Court becomes the responsibility of the prisoner, you can't just transfer the court to where the prisoner is...

There is video conferencing already taking place at the jail, it's for the initial appearance only and not for the trial. The trial, arrainments and so forth must be done in the court room at the jurisdiction where the crime was commited.

Most of the crimes committed in this County are in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Paulden and the surrounding areas, not on the other side of the mountain where the jail resides, this is the reason for all of the daily commutting between Campe Verde and Prescott.

Check out the crime statistics for those areas... from 1999 to 2008 there are: 5460 thefts, 1284 Burglaries, 423 Auto Thefts, 44 Arsons, 7 Murders, 90 Rapes, 61 Robberies and 979 Assaults. AND that's ONLY for the town of Prescott Valley... Pathetic isn't it?..


Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: James Tobin

Establish a night/weekend court in Prescott with a judge who can do initial appearances.

The judge can see people in person who get booked in western Yavapai County during nights and weekends and can also do initial appearances via video with people who get arrested in the Verde Valley during nights/weekends.

If people get OR'd over night and on the weekends they will be released closer to where they were arrested. If they are held they can be sent to Camp Verde.

Rehab the Prescott Jail to the point it can accomodate prisoners over night for new bookings and also house inmates who have a trial in progress.

The Prescott Jail can be rehabbed (including medical and food provisions and security upgrades) to accomodate 100 people. They can creatively use the space that currently exists to ensure everyone's safety.

The night court and rehabbing of the existing facilty at 255 E Gurley can be accomplished for a fraction of what it will cost to build a new jail and nobody's taxes will have to go up.



Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

I thought it moved out of spite after we rejected some jail tax on the ballot. Maybe the story's more involved than that. I pity all those folks who they dropped off just before the jail just to haul them as far away from Prescott as possible, especially the ones who did nothing wrong. They would have been booked if they did. It's a long walk back to Prescott.

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Tony Viada

Just a thought.
Why can't we just build a courthouse in Camp Verde near the Jail ?
I'm not talking about a large modern building, just a warehouse type sheet metal building sectioned off into multiple court rooms.
I believe the cost would be more to the taxpayers liking.


Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Old YCSO Employee

I am a Viet Nam vet and go to the VA facility in Cottonwood. My Doc is in Prescott. We visit and any medical problems are discussed via closed circuit television. Why can't the prisoners be arraigned, etc.using the same technology? Seems that it works for us vets why not the accused? The county could continue building on a site that has already been designated a jail in Camp Verde.
Improve and continue to utilize the Prescott jail as it is being used now.


Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Get Real

Do they take us for complete idiots? Why not have one or two JUDGES make the 50 minute trip over to Verde instead of transporting dangerous criminals all over the county. Lemme see, two judges, one automobile, gas, tires, oil, at the IRS level of reimbursement we're talking $30 each way. Now, divide $20 million dollars (cost of new jail) by $30 per trip. Makes more sense to move a few judges around than hundreds of inmates. Oh, and by the way, why are we incarcerating shoplifters and vagrants? If we incarcerate only those who are a danger to themselves or others we don't need the new jail. Also, if we are now "renting" empty cells why should the taxpayers foot the bill for a new one. Finally, this new jail idea is much like the new Juvenile Justice Center. While they have facilities for a few kiddie kriminals what they mostly have is a new Taj Mahal office complex for the County Attorney's office. Wise up taxpayers. Rowle, take a hike.

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Whose decision? Spend, Spend, Spend

Whose decision was it to build a jail in Verde instead of Prescott? Let's keep on making wild decisions to spend the taxpayers money!

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: An Idea

Couldn't they use videoconferencing (e.g., Skype) for a lot of these "appearances" in court? Maybe not for a full blown trial, but I would think it would be fine for a lot of the procedural sessions.

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Danny Faupel

Why not move the court out to Camp Verde? I sure it would not cost a lot to build a court room or two onto the jail. The only thing we might lose is a few lawyers traveling over Cherry road.

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Bad Idea

Stop beating a dead horse and move on. The County has admitted they do not have enough money to operate a new jail and we all know that no matter the bid price it will be hundreds of thousands of dollars over that.

Use the jail BOS so heartily approved at Camp Verde as is being done now.

Stop the influx of Rehab facilities in Prescott...we do not need to pay for their relapse time in a jail. Enough already. Change the residential code from 8 persons to 4 so rehab owners do not invade neighborhoods. These owners live in Prescott...why haven't they put a facility in their upscale neighborhoods?

What happened to "single" family dwelling codes? Other towns do it, so can Prescott, Out with the rehabbers!

Get on the drug market operators and stay on it so they are run out of town. Stop accommodating the prisoners...

The County just better make certain that their drivers are qualified and not going to "roll over" a vehicle on the way to Camp Verde. Stop with the scare tactics and what if BOS. The answer is NO to a new jail in Prescott. The County cannot handle all its responsibilities as it is, why add a new monumental headache.


Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Another View

Instead of a new jail, why not build another courthouse in Camp Verde?

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Justice

Here's how you solve the jail problem. Have the local police depts. stop arresting people for minor crimes and then throwing them in the jail where a judge then sets an unreasonably high bond and leaves them stuck in jail until the accused person finally gives up and takes a plea deal for something they didn't even do in the first place, Yep that's what happened to me and that is exactly why Yavapai County has such a high conviction rate.

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: alady 53

Scare tactics by Deputy Russell should not influence the Board of Supervisors. I think a new jail would be nice, BUT times are still hard for many people. To insist taxpayers, through a bond, pay for a new jail is irresponsible governing. As with any household, if you can't afford it, then you can't have it.

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Well ......

Maybe that should have thought of all of this when they built the jail in Camp Verde. They probably did but the commute is now the real problem...


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