Thursday, March 29, 2012

Clatsop County Jail Expansion - Ballot Measure 4-156

JAIL EXPANSION PROJECT - Ballot Measure 4-156

Ballot Measure 4-156, on the May 15, 2012 election ballot, proposes a $14 million bond to expand the Clatsop County Jail.

The Clatsop County Jail, located at 636 Duane St. in downtown Astoria, opened in 1980 with a maximum capacity of 29 beds. That number was later increased to 64 by double-bunking and converting other space into cells. In 2005 the daily population was capped at 60, due to concerns about staff and inmate safety

What is the proposed project?

· Expand and remodel the existing Clatsop County Jail to increase capacity from 60 to 164 beds and add units to hold inmates with contagious illnesses, mental health issues and behavioral problems separate from the main population;

· Provide new jail staff offices, intake and booking space, kitchen and laundry facilities and new entryways for offenders and the public.

· Remodel the existing Parole and Probation office in Warrenton to accommodate the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Division and support staff, who are currently housed in the lower level of the jail facility.

In the illustration above, the existing jail is shown in blue; the proposed addition is shown in white.

The construction schedule calls for the project to be completed by the end of 2014.

How much would it cost?

The total estimated cost, including design, permits, construction and contingency fund, is $14,114,118.14. Funding would come primarily from a $14 million, 20-year general obligation bond – the remainder of the cost would be covered by the county’s state timber revenue.

The tax rate for the bond would be an estimated 16.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, equal to an estimated $ 31.23 per year for the average owner of a property assessed at $ 189,291.

What would it cost to operate the expanded jail?

The expanded jail would cost an estimated $1,266,300 more per year to operate than the current facility. The increase is reflected in a larger jail staff, which would grow from the current 25.5 FTE (full-time equivalent) personnel to 34 FTE, as well as increases in supply and maintenance costs.

That increase would be offset with savings in other areas, including money now spent to rent jail beds in Tillamook County. Those savings would total an estimated $391,200, for an estimated net increase in annual operating expenses of $875,100.

As a comparison, in the 2010-11 fiscal year Clatsop County operated the 60 jail beds and 30-bed Transition Center at a total operating cost of $122.32 per bed per day. The operating costs of the expanded 164-bed jail is estimated to be $72.42 per bed per day.

To cover those additional operating costs, the county plans to use a portion of its annual revenue from the Clatsop State Forest, which would results in no additional taxes or cuts to existing services for county residents.

What is the jail’s current capacity?

The Clatsop County Jail currently operates at a 60-inmate capacity. The county also rents 18 beds at the Tillamook County Jail in Tillamook. By law the county can exceed the 60-inmate cap, but only for up to 96 hours. At times the population of the jail has reached 74 – the extra inmates are accommodated with portable beds placed on the floor.

With the current number of beds available, the Sheriff’s Office frequently must release convicted offenders before the end of their sentences due to lack of space – in December 2011, 81 inmates were released early.

The same goes for people in jail awaiting trials or hearings. In 2011 a total of 97 people were released before their scheduled court appearances.

People on parole or probation who commit violations of the terms of their supervision that would warrant jail sentences are frequently not incarcerated because no beds are available at the jail to hold them.

The Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office currently has almost 1,200 outstanding arrest warrants on file, most of which have not been served due to lack of space in the jail.

In 2010, 40 percent of people booked into Clatsop County Jail served less than one day behind bars. Offenders who have been released from the jail before the end of their sentences due to lack of space include people convicted of domestic violence assaults, first-degree burglary and drug-selling.

The 164-bed capacity of the expanded facility is designed to provide space for sentenced offenders to serve their full terms, with some additional beds for parole and probation violators and people arrested on warrants.

What other changes would be made?

The current configuration of the county jail limits the ability of staff to separate the population based on gender, criminal classification and other factors, as well as to isolate inmates with contagious illnesses, mental health issues or behavioral problems. At times, the need to isolate certain inmates for security reasons means that the total population is held below the 60-inmate maximum.

Since the jail opened in 1980, the average number of female inmates has increased from 1 or 2 to approximately 25 percent of the total population. Male and female inmates must be held separately in the facility.

The project would remodel the existing jail facility to increase room for all classifications of inmates. It would also add more isolation cells for inmates with illness or behavioral issues.

Are there alternative programs?

Clatsop County and our local circuit courts operate several programs designed to provide an alternative to incarceration for local offenders, including Drug Court and Mental Health Court. Plus, Sheriff’s Office Parole and Probation supervises 419 people.

The Sheriff’s Office has also instituted an inmate work crew program, electronic monitoring (home arrest) and day reporting as jail alternatives, in part due to the jail’s lack of space.

Alternative programs like Drug Court are designed to help people break the cycle of substance abuse and other behaviors that frequently contribute to criminal activity, by offering the chance to clear a criminal charge off their record in return for successfully completing a treatment program. With the lack of space in the county jail, there are limited options to sanction program participants if they fail to abide by the programs’ conditions.

Why not just rent more beds elsewhere?

The county currently rents 18 beds in the Tillamook County Jail at a cost of $355,000 a year. Renting 104 beds – the amount that would be added to the Clatsop County Jail in the expansion project – at the $55 per bed per day rate charged by Tillamook would cost more than $2 million a year, assuming the beds were available in other counties at the same rate.

The $355,000 figure does not include the costs in money, time and manpower it takes to transport offenders to and from Tillamook.

Would the jail be shut down during the project?

The project has been designed to be constructed in phases that would allow the jail to operate throughout the project period. No inmates would need to be relocated or released.

Why move the Sheriff’s Office staff?

Relocating the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Division and support staff to the Parole and Probation office in Warrenton would provide more working space for those 26 personnel. It also would free up the bottom level of the jail facility to accommodate enlarged work space for jail staff, as well as new intake and booking space, enlarged laundry and kitchen facilities, and a larger “sally port” entryway for vehicles transporting offenders to the jail.

Why remodel the current jail?

Utilizing the existing facility is estimated to cost one-half as much as building an all-new jail. The current jail is located next to the Clatsop County Courthouse, minimizing the transport needs for inmates making court appearances.


Anonymous said...

You all do remember how sheriff Bergin tried to handle his jail problem, don't you? Shortly after he was elected he banned Astoria Police Officer Nikki Culver from bringing prisoners to the jail or even coming into the jail. All because Culver asked a jail deputy to handcuff a prisoner. Culver was banned for months and, during that entire time, Astoria had to take its only other officer out of service to take Culver's prisoners to the jail. Now, that is certainly a mature and innovative way to manage a jail, don't you think? Maybe with a much larger jail, Bergin will actually let all police officers bring in prisoners.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, that was like 7 YEARS ago.

This is about public safety, not personalities.

If you care about keeping our community safe then vote to finally expand our jail or don't complain when your car is stolen, your identity stolen or your kid beaten up.

Patrick McGee said...

Isn't Nikki Culver a female officer?

Michael Nelson said...

There are MUCH less costly ways to solve our current jail space crisis. The bond request is also a one million dollar expansion of the nearly new Transition Center in order to accomodate both the Probation and Patrol staff. Why not just swap the Patrol and Probation office locations ? This brings the Probation staff back into Astoria, and gets the Patrol staff out of Astoria, much more convenient for all concerned and we are not wasting dollars. The Federal Reserve has indicated they are not raising rates anytime soon so why rush into a project that has not taken into account so many factors?

There has been an inmate facility operated at Camp Rilea in the late 90's. Why not explore the possibility of reestablishing that facility, stop the flow of $355,000 this year alone to Tillamook County for rented beds, and spend that money here locally, providing family wage jobs to our community and keep our offenders close enough so their families can be involved in their rehabilitation and reentry into society? I would bet a buck that such an inmate facility could be reestablished in less time than it would take to come even close to completion of the project currently contemplated. And although probably not a permanent arrangement, at least we would be able to solicit the public's input and assistance in finding workable solutions that we can afford and live with.

Operating a 160 bed inmate facility in the downtown Astoria area will bring local impacts that have not been researched or discussed. Traffic, parking, inmate visitors, releases, deliveries, etc. All of these and more activities occuring right next door to a church, and residences, on a 24/7 basis. I would like to hear how the neighbors feel about this project so if you are one, please weigh in for all to hear.

Lastly, moving the Sheriff's Office support staff means moving the Civil Division which handles all paperwork from the courts and citizens such as restraining orders, collections, subpoenas, and other items submitted for civil service. This move will, in my opinion, greatly inconvenience citizens, the courts, agencies, attorneys, and other users of these services. This function should remain in close proximity to the courthouse in Astoria.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Partick, Nikki Culver is a female Astoria police officer, which, also brings into question why the sheriff would treat a female officer that way. Of course, Nikki, unlike the sheriff, has a college degree and Bergin has said that people with college degrees lack common sense. So, maybe it wasn't because Culver was female but because of her education achievements.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks the jail issue does not involve the sheriff's personality is just wrong. Besides the thing with Culver we just learned about, Bergin was irritated with the head of community corrections because he had to share some power with her, so he was able to get rid of her and dissolve the transition center. That eliminated one option to deal with criminals. Anyone who thinks that saved a lot of money is crazy because most of the cost was paid by the feds, the state and grants. Othewise, Bergin has done nothing about the "jail problem" until chalanged in an election and needing the endorsement of DA Josh Marquis, a grand proponent of just putting people in jail.
Besides all that, why are DA Marquis and sheriff Bergin so cozy? Isn't the DA supposed to be an objective elected official who turns people loose where the sheriff does not produce enough evidence and owes nothing to anybody? Is this a healthy relationship? Healthy for the community that is?

Patrick McGee said...

You going to back any of your allegations and rhetoric with any factual data to support it "Anonym"?

Start with Nikki Culver. Where can we find any specific information on the situation you allege between her and "The Sheriff's Office"?

Anonymous said...

You can ask the sheriff, you can ask the jail commander, you can ask the District Attorney, the Astoria city manager or any law enforcement officer who was there in 2006. You can also request the internal file from APD, which has all the facts. Of, you can of course ask Nikki Culver.

John said...

You cannot operate a jail at Camp Rilea and Deputy Nelson, who is upset at being passed over for sergeant, simply does not grasp the problem with having so few jail beds that it infects the credibility of the entire justice system - no jail for misconduct, no jail for violating probation, no jail for the 75% of felony convictions.
Traffic impacts?
All the patrol cars and business traffic that currently goes to the Sheriff's Office will now go to Warrenton. Guess what, most people in jail don't park there while they are guests. But if you have any compassion for those people jailed then it is important that what little support system they have can visit them - which they can in downtown Astoria but not out at the "Business Park."
Community Corrections was a joke and the head of it was incompetent who spent all her time gambling at the Merry Time.
Ask the JUDGES where they want the jail.
They are the main consumers.
The DA's job in jail management is to recommend the least dangerous people be released. In Tillamook County no-one is released because they have the jail capacity. Here all we do is spend hundreds of thousands on studies and make it about personalities.

Michael Nelson said...

If I may respond, not representing any governmental agency...

Camp Rilea has already been host to a correctional facility. 70 plus inmates age 24 and under were housed there while the state juvenile correctional facility was being built in Warrenton. I saw this with my own eyes and my wife worked there. Management there was supportive enough of renewing the arrangement that they forwarded the request to their superiors in Salem.

I am not upset. I have an exemplary work record and invite anyone to challenge it. As for being passed over, I have received an annual evaluation months after the last promotional exam and my review speaks for itself, particularly in the area of attitude toward the profession, work ethic, working with others and the public all are areas I have received high marks my entire career.

Not grasping the effects of the shortage of jail beds? I worked in the Clatsop County Jail over three years and know from first hand experience what early releasing means, particularly when some return within a matter of hours or days after being arrested for new crimes.

With the added staff and reduced parking situation created by the proposed expansion, combined with the additional supplies required to operate the more than double size facility, and the added number of citizen visitors coming to support the more than double inmates being held in the facility after expansion, there is no doubt that congestion will occur.

I would certainly like to ask our circuit court judges where they would like our county's inmates held, and I will ask. I suspect they may feel something like this:
Use the present facility for pre sentenced inmates, those held on pending cases with court appearences scheduled and unable to post bail. Those who are sentenced, could be held in any suitable location, and proximity to our courthouse would not be relevant. Under my plan, even if an inmate held elsewhere did need to appear or be seen by our Judges or other officials, they would certainly be close enough to be brought before the court easily and economically.

I agree that our county spends a lot of money on study after study. I believe that we have many knowledgeable citizens and officials right here that could be brought together to come up with viable, affordable, sensible, local solutions to these issues. All we have to do is ask them.

Patrick McGee said...

Anonymous said...
You can ask the sheriff, you can ask the jail commander, you can ask the District Attorney, the Astoria city manager or any law enforcement officer who was there in 2006. You can also request the internal file from APD, which has all the facts. Of, you can of course ask Nikki Culver."

Come on "Anonym", I know you know better. You are leveling all these allegations and inferences of fact upon us yourself and I would deem it your responsibility to balance them with actual data to back them if you really want anybody to accept them as believeable as opposed to your appearing as merely another vitriolic Sheriff and D.A. hater and you know that as well.

Patrick McGee said...

Here's the thing on the County Jail expansion.
The people, me included, are saying it is just time to get on with the expansion and have heard enough talk about it, especially those that have been taken, invouluntarily, on that long, miserable, devastating ride that those they are close to have taken them through "Incarceration", "Probation", "Corrections", "The Courts" and somehow seem to never get out of it and are always left with a "Balance Due" to be paid-off before they can truly get off that train, our family included.

So, "Candidate Nelson" and the others can justify whatever they deem necessary to inprove their posture in the race but, I am afraid it will fall on deaf ears in the end with Bergin retaining his post, in my view and remember, this current jail expansion proposal, in a more rudimentary form, was his progeny and he will deserve full, due credit for it even after is was forced into a stall by "The Lee County Commission" which wanted to assert its own Testosterone and alleged business acumen by, of all things, considering helping pay for a new jail for Columbia County? Propose a Mega-Jail for the beleagured North Coast Business Park among its other publicly funded failures?

The only thing we don't seem to have in place is a system top get those violators who desrve it an opportunity to get back into the community as contributing citizens. Where are these candidates, including Bergin's thoughts and solutions on this I wonder?

Anonymous said...

Start with Nikki Culver. Where can we find any specific information on the situation you allege between her and "The Sheriff's Office"?
Patrick, you asked "where" and I told you where. I know it happened as did the writer above who said it happened 7 years ago. If you are not just asking questions for the sake of asking questions, how about trying the sources I provided?

Patrick McGee said...

Let's put it this way "Anonym", I'm not inclined to waste time with B.S.

You want to level accusations and insinuations, post factual data to back it up or we'll just start the irrelelvant aspects of you musings from the conversation.

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt Bergin banned Culver from the jail. I have provided sources so you can determine for yourself the facts. You have rejected them without even bothering to contact them. Please, then, give me an idea of what you consider proof.

Patrick McGee said...

Oops! I left the word..."Erasing"...out of my last post....sorry "Anonym".

That should bring my point into a clearer perspective and my point still stands.

John said...


What the hell does it have to do with the need for more than 60 beds at the jail and paying $300K to Tillamook to spend thousands to transport our inmates back and forth.

Mike Nelson may be a nice guy but he hasn't made sergeant, let alone a command position and now he wants to be THE boss. Camp Rilea is a federal reservation and there is no way the state and feds would approve a permanent facility there.
Using the jail for pre-ajudicated inmates and then a separate one for sentenced ones. The DA proposed that years ago until it was pointed out it would cost a fortune in operational costs because you'd need two of all staff, medical, food, laundry, etc.

Can we PLEASE get back to the need for a JAIL?

Brian said...

Nelson has already stated that Camp Rilea would probably not be a permanent arrangement. It would be temporary solution that would make it possible to fully explore a permanent one. He also said (expressing what the judges may say) sentenced inmates could be held in any "suitable" facility, not a separate one, although that could have to happen as it already does. Mike Nelson's ideas have merit and worth exploring. He has the experience to be the "boss". What are the other candidate's ideas? Mr. McGee, maybe you have heard enough talk and feel it's time to get on with the expansion, but I have not. And the "people" are not saying anything until the votes are cast.

Patrick McGee said...

The answer "Brian" is in the rendering at the top of this post and is the most sensible and cost my view and pending a couple of answers from Bergin on one, his sudden stall on enforcing the law on Marijuana outlet stores and two, any clear logic in stripping our roadsides for a treeless buffer zone, he still is the candidate of choice, again in my view, of the majority of voters in Clatsop County but, the ballots will tell won't they?