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After decades of overcrowding Sarpy County leaders say new jail is needed

Posted at 6:40 PM, Oct 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-21 19:40:02-04

PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — 30 years after building the county jail, County commissioners will vote Tuesday to build a new and much larger jail.

Replacing the current jail that is on average, around 20 percent over capacity.

"So there are some folks that are dangerous and need to be segregated and it's very difficult to do that in our current facility,” says Don Kelly, chair of the Sarpy County Board of Commissioners.

The county has even had to get creative to stop the problem from getting worse. Right now, over 200 would be inmates are in alternative programs, like diversion or work release.

"Everyone that can be out of jail at this point is but we still, but it hasn't solved our overcrowding issue,” says Sarpy County Communications manager, Megan Stubenhofer-Barrett

On top of that, they've shipped some inmates to other counties, such as Douglas, even taking them as far as Central Nebraska, to Kearney.

"County jail overcrowding isn't just limited to Sarpy County, so we're having to go further and further and further," says Stubenhofer-Barrett.

If passed, the jail wouldn't be going far, being built in the parking lot here, right next to the current facility, that should save the taxpayers some money as the county wouldn't have to purchase any new land.

"There's no transportation costs of inmates to and from the courts, our county attorney's office, our courtrooms and our public defender are all co-located, so it would save us hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in operating costs,” says Kelly.

The plan for now is to budget $6 million a year for the jail, but not increase taxes on county residents.

Chair of the county board Don Kelly says they're able to avoid a tax hike because the county continues to grow at the fastest rate in the state.

"With that growth comes increased tax revenues, and we have earmarked some of that growth in tax revenue to help pay for the jail,” says Kelly.

Kelly also says the county is still looking to build a mental health facility that would open up around the same time of the jail.

Currently those with mental health issues are often taken to jail.