Idea of Private Investor-Backed Jail, Being Floated

BEATRICE – Could private investors play a role in building a new Gage County Jail?

The idea has been floated to the sheriff and county supervisors, at the committee-level.  County officials have avoided, like the plague, another bond issue proposal for a new jail, ever since one was shot down decisively by voters in November of 2009.

Gage County, now facing jail populations of double the capacity of the current jail, routinely ship prisoners to other facilities.  Recently, a Beatrice pharmacy owner, Rick Clabaugh, brought the idea of private investor interest in a new jail, before county officials.  Clabaugh is a current Beatrice City Councilman.

Sheriff Millard Gustafson says there’s apparently some interest in the idea.

:20                  “would work out”

County officials have had to weigh the costs of holding prisoners in outside jails, compared with expenses of building a new facility.

At least two county board members, Erich Tiemann and John Hill, say it’s probably still less expensive to house prisoners outside the county, than building a new detention center.

Hill feels the current system still pencils out in favor of holding prisoners elsewhere.

:22                  “start it tomorrow”

County Board member Gary Lytle is the board’s law enforcement committee chairman.

:24                  “all it was”

Lytle says one important part of any new facility is to make it less labor intensive and offer more protection for corrections employees, who frequently face danger with unruly inmates.

:16                  “thanks enough”

In addition to the cost of housing prisoners outside of a county, money must also be budgeted for medical and dental expenses for inmates and for personnel costs incurred in the transport of prisoners.

Gage County’s current jail is designed to hold no more than 30 inmates, but prisoner population has occasionally exceeded 60, in recent months.

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