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Douglas County Jail Hopes to Expand

The Douglas County Jail has a new potential plan in store that could accommodate the needs of more inmates.

While the initial plan was to decrease the number of inmates, the county is thinking about expanding the jail instead.

When the Douglas County Jail was first built in 1999, it was built as a projection of where the county would be for the next 20 years. The county is hitting that mile mark and after a substantial rise in crime rate, the jail is way over capacity.

The county started a few new programs and have been farming inmates to other jails, but it isn’t helping at the rate they hoped. So instead, an alternative solution is to expand the jail.

“We’re running out of spaces for programming, mental health issues are constantly coming upon us along with medical issues. So there are different facets where were kind of looking at, what we need in the future,” says Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern.

If they expand, they will enlarge the female housing, the special needs unit and preclash unit.

“We’re way past need and we gotta do something,” he says.

Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug says if the expansion decision is passed, it could cost up to $45 million. With this decision, he wants the county to know that it would make a difference in order to help the overincarceration.

“My frustration is that in our effort to be able to continue those things that the national dialogue about overincarceration has caused the community of Douglas County who care about those things to say ‘we don’t want to be a part of overincarceration,'” says Weinaug.

The money would come from either sales tax or property tax and the decision will be based on a vote by Douglas County voters. There are two potential plans in which the new capacity could range from 317 to 336 beds.

A decision for the expansion will be made in the next month but could be changed.