Karen Chinn of Chinn Planning speaks during the Lucas County new jail feasibility study kick-off meeting in Toledo.
THE BLADE/LORI KING
Projections of future inmate populations, staffing needs, and operational plans are among topics to be covered in a feasibility study for a new Lucas County correctional facility, according to architects hired to conduct the study.
A committee charged with exploring options for replacing the county jail was briefed Wednesday about plans and jail-design considerations in a feasibility study being done by DLR Group of Omaha.
Jeffrey A. Buck, a DLR Group architect, said his firm will focus on providing recommendations drawn from the projections of future needs and planning that will allow the jail to operate efficiently.
“Most importantly, in any community, it has to be a safe and secure facility. That is for the public, the staff, and the inmates. It needs to be functional. It needs to work. It needs to be operational,” Mr. Buck said.
DLR Group, which bills itself as the world’s top criminal-justice design firm, was hired by the county commissioners in November to study the need for a new jail.
“We want to make sure that we provide information the county management, the sheriff, and all the stakeholders here can have for a consensus on this is what we need,” Mr. Buck said.
He said DLR’s facility designs will be flexible to allow for different offender classifications and programs such as drug treatment and work-release.
Karen Chinn, a planner assisting DLR, said the study will include five-year incremental inmate population projections that will cover the next 30 years, and the data will include the appropriate housing for inmates with mental health issues.
The consensus of architects and committee members who spoke at the “kick-off” session is that the existing 346-bed jail is obsolete, poorly designed, and nearly impossible to renovate to meet modern standards and the county’s jail needs.
Mr. Buck said the Lucas County jail, opened in 1977, ranks among the top 10 worst jails his firm has toured while studying more than 350 detention facilities.
The feasibility study’s total cost is capped at $75,000. A $30,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Development’s Local Government Innovation Fund and $15,000 contributions from both the county and city of Toledo are covering most of its cost.
The consultants, who are working with the Toledo-based SSOE Group, are expected to have the study completed and ready for the committee’s review in the spring.
Contact Mark Reiter at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6199.