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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local May 24, 2016

9/5/2013 3:18:00 PM
New jail now top priority for Yavapai County supervisors
By Tamara Sone
Contributing Reporter/Daily Courier

YAVAPAI COUNTY - When it comes to the construction of a new jail in Prescott, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office is short on time and money.

At Tuesday's Yavapai County Board of Supervisors meeting, Sheriff Scott Mascher spoke to the board about the importance of putting a new facility at the top of the county's to-do list -- especially now that the department is losing its bed rental program.

"When they (the supervisors) realize we are losing a couple million dollars in revenues, this is something we really need to think about now and start planning for," Mascher said Tuesday.

The bed rental program was a partnership between the department and the U.S. Marshal's Service for housing inmates at the Yavapai County Camp Verde Jail.

The Marshal's Service paid the county a little over $60 per-day, per-inmate to house non-violent, minor crime classification offenders at the jail. Bed rentals ranged between 50 and 100 beds a month. The program has brought more than $9 million in revenue into the county since 2007, Masher said.

About two weeks ago, Mascher learned that the Marshals would no longer be using the department's facilities, Mascher said. The Marshal's have contracted with a private 5,400-bed prison facility in Florence, Ariz.

Without that revenue, the department will be forced to look to the county to help shore up the gap in their budget as well as help pay for a new facility in Prescott.

Mascher said the current year's budget is sufficient to keep the Prescott jail open for intake and booking in fiscal year 2014-15, as long as the county would pitch in $150,000 to $200,000.

The Jail District has about $1.4 million in reserves that they can dip into to help offset the loss of the bed rental program, Mascher said. That money was more or less a savings account toward building a new jail.

"We do have some time, but not a lot of time," Mascher said. "I will do everything I can to make sure we don't lose 24/7 booking. There's no way we can lose that."

The county doesn't have the money to build the jail - which is estimated to cost more than $15 million - or pay for the operation of the facility, Supervisor Tom Thurman said.

"If we go out to bond, they are not going to lend you money unless you have a way to pay it back," Thurman said.

During Tuesday's meeting, supervisors contemplated the possibility of extending and/or increasing the jail sales tax that is due to expire in 2019. Supervisors also discussed implementing an increase to property taxes.

Now that Mascher has done the homework, the board needs to figure out how to pay for the new jail, Supervisor Craig Brown said.

"What I would like to see the county do would be start looking short-term and getting started with the design and some of those things," Supervisor Rowle Simmons said. "You know that is going to have to happen and I'd like to see us find a way to get that process at least started."

It could take up to four years from the design to full construction of the new jail, Mascher said.

"I just wanted to say thank you for looking at this," Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall said. "This affects everybody, so count us in. If it's a jail tax, I'll guarantee you that the City of Prescott will support you 100 percent."

The 600-bed jail in Camp Verde has teetered close to maximum capacity a few times. In June, 572 beds were occupied at the jail, according to a graph Mascher presented to the board.

"I saw what happened before with the Prescott jail when we got under federal mandates," Mascher said. "I don't ever want to get in that situation again over overcrowding and population issues where we are under the gun to have to do something."

As the economy took a dip, so did the number of inmates at the jail, Mascher said. But now that the economy is rebounding, the number of county inmates is increasing.

"Normally what has happened when you get overcrowded is that you get mattresses and put them on the floor in the jails," Mascher said. "But hopefully we won't get to that stage if we start planning now.

"I mean, we are getting close, there's no doubt on that," he added.

The department has been working with local law enforcement to cite and release suspects rather than book then into jail, which helps keep inmate numbers and costs down, Mascher said.

While there is space to add on to the Camp Verde facility, the problem of transporting inmates to and from Prescott for judicial proceedings still exists, Mascher said.

"We are "mileing' out the buses and vans we have," Mascher said. "The next buses we are looking at are somewhere around $800,000 to replace the two we have right now."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, January 18, 2014
Article comment by: Sarah Andreen

Here is a novel idea, how about we stop putting people in jail! Only 5% of people in prison have committed violent crimes, when will we stop imprisoning people for being drug addicts or for owing money? Have any of you been to prison? This county profits from putting people in prison...that doesn't bother anyone

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: REALLY? ANOTHER JAIL??


Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Article comment by: Niccole C.

I agree with "Just Wondering". It does not make sense to build a new jail, when improvements on the old one would be cost-effective, and much more efficient.
But, hey what do we know? We are just the tax-paying public, with an opinion, not a voice.
I believe that Sheriff Mascher should take another look at his "homework", before attempting to convince the BOS that it is okay to increase taxes on the community wallets. He knew the US Marshalls contract would eventually end-- Wouldn't it have been wise to address the issue at least 6 months prior?? A $2M* Prevention is a far better reach than a $15+M Cure, wouldn't you agree? *educated guess*
Or maybe Mascher should go back into retirement and let someone less bureaucratic, but more fiscally responsible replace him. Perhaps someone who does look out for all Yavapai residents and constituents.

Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

Anonymous victim -

Once we break the last union, we'll throw you in jail, where you will slave for us, for ten cents an hour

Step out of line, we'll get your sentence extended - indefinitely

Forget parole, you're in AZ

Remember, your felony conviction will mean no more voting and NO MORE FIREARMS

Forget freedom

Whether you are in jail or not, forget retirement, vacations, home ownership -- forget everything but work

Oh, you want something to remember? Here you go: You voted for the right-wing, conservative, law 'n order Republican candidates who passed the laws that made your enslavement possible, CHUMPS

Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Stop putting Pot heads in jail.DUH

Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Article comment by: The New Verde County

I smell the typical Prescott skunks......arranging for the tax dollars to be shipped to Prescott. Seems we paid for a nice set of plans for a new jail or elaborate remodel awhile back. NO. Yavapai county in the verde valley does not want to pay for it. We have bad roads, lack of maintance , lack of leadership and those in charge are buying stuff we do not need for this area. First Prescott did not want criminals in that town so they built a jail they want the tax dollars so they want to build a new spa jail. NO. split the county.......where are those people.....lets get the petitions flowing, NO new jail and split the county it is time.

Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Article comment by: The New Verde County

SPLIT THE COUNTRY FIRST. The verde valley citizens DO NOT WANT TO PAY FOR A NEW JAIL IN PRESCOTT. no no no NO new tax. Infact lower the taxes. Infact do away with property taxes and charge more for luxury items. Time to split this county and let Prescott paid for their own new spa/jail. The verde valley needs our own projects and improvements. SPLIT THE COUNTY.

Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Article comment by: Carl Nye

"New jail now top priority for Yavapai County supervisors".

With everything that the county supervisors have to deal with... what does it say about the mindset of our elected leaders that their utmost concern is to have a new jail?

This attitude is yet another handful of grease on the rails toward a total police state.

Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Article comment by: Carl Nye

I bet Sheriff Joe would be happy to share his vast experience in running a tent city. That shouldn't cost as much as the $15+ million dollar jail you want to build.

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: Bill Bassett

Where are those 'divide Yavapai County' folks when you need them?

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: myah smith

More probation would cause more people to be arrested because every time that person messes up they get sent to jail. Maybe if the officers wouldnt arrest people and take people to jail for petty stuff.

They use the prescott jail to hole inmate's awaiting court and sometimes book a person in and then drive them to camp verde. Its still functional if they had all the necessities needed. They need to use it.

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: Oh my, Mr. Mascher

Me thinks you have lost all of your Jail House Rocks. Don't for one minute believe your Plus One Minus Two new math adds up to community support for your expansion plans. Verde Valley and Yavapai County, stand up and speak up against the inflated penal budget. YCSO needs, for once, an incentive-based, data-driven budget for GOOD work, and reality based planning. STOP the NONSENSE!

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: Billinda Bantam

To Just Wondering:

Shades of Clockwork Orange!

But it's a great idea to hold drunks overnight and charge them room and board--if you can keep this from degenerating into highway robbery the way the Rico statute has.

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: Just Wondering

Sometimes my memory fails me but I do remember at one time that the jail used to be in Prescott but ran out of room, so they moved it to Camp Verde. Why then do they need to build a new jail there? Why not just refurbrish the old one? Use the Prescott jail for those in Prescott and surrounding area's like Wilhoit, Kirkland, Skull Valley, Bagdad, etc. and the one in Camp Verde for those on this side of the mountain? Some of the beds could be used as a holding cell for someone who got too drunk to drive home, as an example, and charge them a $60.00 fee for one night. When they are just barely over the legal limit. Maybe one night is all they need to wake them up to realize their mistake. OR better yet for those who text and drive or talk on the phone while driving. Let them stay there while scenes from an accident involving texting/talking plays over and over again.

Just Wondering?

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: This Makes No Sense!

Why on earth do we need another jail?!!!
This is just a waste of taxpayers' money. Give more probation, REDUCE the jail population and probably some of the jail workers. Yavapai County is not in the business of incarceration. We have other, better businesses.
This is absurd.

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