Montgomery County is launching plans to renovate the county jail. Officials say the renovations will help improve a number of poor structural, and inmate conditions that have been linked to a string of lawsuits alleging prisoner mistreatment.
Montgomery County has hired Omaha-based consulting firm HDR to develop the renovation plan based on recommendations from the Justice Advisory Committee. With lawsuits mounting up, the group was formed in 2017 to look into the jail’s policies and procedures.
County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman says the county will spend about half a million dollars on the plan. The investment needed to renovate the jail will save the county money in the longterm, she says.
“We're now at $13 million for settlement and over issues that happened at the jail," says Lieberman. "And so, when we asked this justice committee to look at it, it was out of concern for what was happening.”
County Administrator Michael Colbert says HDR will examine factors including the layout of the jail, overcrowding issues, and how the jail provides mental health, drug addiction, and health-care services.
“Most of the people that go into jail haven't been convicted of anything," Colbert says. "So, while they're in there we want to treat them or whatever brought them there at the point of entry and that we have the appropriate services inside the jail to help people."
Officials say renovations to the jail are expected to ultimately cost the county several million dollars. It could take up to eight months to integrate the advisory committee’s county-approved recommendations into the plan.