LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners will ask the County Jail Planning Committee to look at a Plan B for dealing with crowding at the Belknap County House of Correction, which has led to the outsourcing of many inmates to facilities in other counties.
That plan would be creation of a temporary adult detention annex for as many as as 50 prisoners, which would free up program space inside the current facility, which has a capacity of 120 inmates but which has had as many as 151 on some days in recent months,.
County Administrator Debra Shackett broached the possibility of a Plan B at Wednesday morning's meeting after pointing out that there was no public support at present for moving ahead with plans for a new facility, but there were many things which needed to be done at the jail.
She said that temporary housing for 50 inmates would allow the county to bring back all of the outsourced prisoners while utilizing some of the existing space which would be freed up in the jail for programs designed to help released inmates adjust to life in the community, which could lower recidivism.
''We would need additional staff and supervision but need to look at how the county would best be served while we wait for a new facility. The situation is bad and is getting worse,'' said Shackett.
She dusted off a 30-month-old contract proposal from a Georgia firm which builds and installs temporary detention facilities for a 32-unit facility which would cost $1.26 million over three years.
The proposed contract called for $315,360 to put the temporary facility in place and for payments of $78,840 over the next 12 quarters.
''The numbers are old and outdated.'' she told commissioners Steven Nedeau and Ed Philpot (Chairman John Thomas is on vacation), who said that they were still interested in the proposal.
''Let's do a current number and get more information and get those to the Jail Planning Committee.'' said Philpot, who said that he did not see the plan in any way as ''a potential permanent solution'' but that it deserved study and would be discussed at next week's Jail Planning Committee meeting.
He said that it would be particularly important to work with Department of Corrections Superintendent Daniel Ward to obtain figures which would show the difference in costs between temporary facilities and outsourcing.
Nedeau said the plan was ''a good suggestion'' and said that there are many costs associated with outsourcing which aren't reflected in the arrangement recently reached with Hillsborough County for housing Belknap County prisoners.
Philpot said that it would be important to hear from Sheriff Craig Wiggin about additional costs that outsourcing creates for his department, especially transportation and overtime costs.
Commissioners also heard more about potential future expenditures at the jail when they reviewed a list of capital improvement projects that they will take up during budget review sessions next week.
Largest item of the capital improvements plans proposal is $ 1 million for the heating, ventilation and air condition system at the House of Corrections.
Other items listed for consideration in 2014 include $250,000 for renovation of space in the Belknap County Courthouse which would be shared by the Probate Court and the county's Department of Restorative Justice, $120,000 for replacement of the A/C unit for the administrative offices and Sheriff's Department, $100,000 for a new county complex surveillance system, $100,000 for reconstruction and repaving of County Drive and $60,000 for replacement of courthouse windows.
On tap in 2015 is $580,000 for a new roof for the Belknap County complex.