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Inmates finish first month in new county jail
by Liz Marino
lmarino@neighbornewspapers.com
January 02, 2013 11:56 AM | 1291 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Dec. 3, members of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office successfully transported 700 inmates from the old Douglas County Jail on Church Street to new accommodations at the $115 million Douglas County Adult Detention Facility on Earl D. Lee Boulevard.

The seemingly daunting task was completed in six and a half hours, according to Chief Deputy Stan Copeland.

“We move inmates for a living,” said Copeland. “It is an everyday occurrence — just on a much larger scale.”

Efficiency and cost-saving were the goals during the move-in operation, said Copeland, as it saved the sheriff’s department from having to staff two facilities at the same time.

The timing of the move from the old jail, built in 1983, was also advantageous, explained the chief deputy.

“The jail population is statistically lowest from early December until March,” said Copeland. “So the move came at a good time. Crime usually creeps up in March and through the summer, so it worked out well for us.”

He explained that there aren’t as many people out and about during winter and more burglaries and thefts occur during warmer months when people aren’t at home as much.

“Criminal activity, or ‘rambunctious’ behavior as I like to call it, is higher in warmer months and more people get in trouble,” he said.

While the jail is operational and secure, contractors still must complete a number of “punch list” items, said Copeland.

“When going through a punch list, you really don’t put everything to a test until you use it,” he explained.

“I think we’re three months out to work out and finish everything. We’re concentrating on any security issues first.”

Meanwhile, he said, both staff and inmates are adapting to the changes at the newer – and larger – detention facility. Short of some minor glitches which make an occasional visitation center monitor inoperable, the new center should make the process of visiting inmates easier for both the public and staff, according to Copeland.

The jail’s use of technology and cell block design was planned to improve inmate management with less staff and better security — all which save taxpayer dollars, said Copeland.

“We’ve implemented a lot of internal help that cuts down on inmate mobility,” said the chief deputy.

By utilizing direct, secure fiber-optics from the jail to the courthouse, bond hearings that once required inmate transport for initial hearings can be done through video teleconferencing. The inmate, explained Copeland, will remain at the jail.

“This means big cost saving for the county,” said Copeland, “but huge security savings for the county jail.”

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