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Wednesday
Jan172018

Study recommends more work on Lake County Jail problems

(POLSON)- With crime rates and adult arrests climbing, a new study suggests Lake County leaders should renew efforts to develop plans for building a new jail. 

The report, requested by Sheriff Don Bell and prepared by the National Institute of Corrections, is aimed at helping the county re-boot plans to deal with the aging jail and overcrowding. 

The report, conducted in November, found serious violent crimes had declined in Lake County between 2007 and 2011, averaging 55-crimes per 1000 residents. But since then, the crime rate has soared to 73-crimes per 1000, driven largely by substance abuse. In fact, over 51-percent of the inmates were in custody because of alcohol and drugs. The authors say longer jail stays in recent years have also pushed the 46-bed facility to hold as many as 100 inmates, a number that's been limited by court orders. 

The report also found many of the building elements at the Lake County Jail "pose safety and security risks" with portions of the building that are "out-of-date and dysfunctional." 

The report recommends Lake County leaders should continue discussions about building a new jail, reorganizing the Justice System Coordinating Council to head the effort. And the authors say those talks should lead to a formal needs assessment, visiting other similar size jails to see what's possible.

At the same time, the report recommends Lake County use more community "sanctioning and supervision" programs for inmates to ease pressure on the existing jail. 

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