New jail breaks ground in Minden |

New jail breaks ground in Minden

Work on a 15,000-square-foot expansion of the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center began Tuesday.

Sheriff Ron Pierini said construction on the jail will take 10 months before the $4 million project is completed.

Opened in 1982, the building has undergone only minor remodeling in the last 27 years.

Pierini said the building has gone 10 years past its expected life without an expansion.

It has come close to its capacity of 100 inmates on several occasions, but the real issue is keeping some inmates separate from the general population.

“We’re getting more female inmates,” Pierini said. “Statistics nationally show there is a higher rate of incarceration for women. We have to be able to separate them.”

Jailers need to be able to separate gang members and people dealing with medical and psychological problems from other inmates.

“We don’t have the same mental health services as larger places, so we end up with people with mental health problems,” he said. “It is critical to keep them separated for their safety and the safety of the other inmates. If we can’t separate them, we need to release them.”

The expansion includes a dozen holding cells which will allow jailers to monitor inmates with special needs.

The expansion will include a new kitchen, which Pierini said is needed.

Pierini said work on the jail confirms the sheriff’s office will be on the site for another 20 years.

“There was some discussion of going offsite,” he said. “But this way we can transfer prisoners to court more safely. Having everything under one roof is good for us.”

The jail will still have to hold inmates securely while work on the expansion is going on.

Initial work will be outside the shell of the building. Pierini said the contractor, APCO, has experience building jails. All workers will have to undergo background checks and will be subject to search at the site. There will be increased patrols of the jail perimeter with the addition of a K-9.

“I’d like to praise (Capt.) John Milby and Undersheriff Paul Howell for the work they’ve done on this project,” Pierini said. “It has taken a lot of patience to get to this point.”

Project Manager Scott McCullough said designing the jail expansion and the next phase has been going on since May 2005.

Money for this project came from the proposed garage next to the CVIC Hall that was canceled when costs exceeded the amount of bond money available.

There wasn’t sufficient money to complete both phases of the jail.

Minden architect Chris Forsyth of Eissman-Pence designed the expansion.