County officials unveil plans for new jail and superior court

Authored by Jim Langham on May 9, 2014

At an information meeting held at the Geneva Town Hall on Wednesday night, county officials unveiled proposed plans for a new county jail and a new superior court.
Attorney Mark Burry told those present that continuing new government regulations are forcing county officials with no other choice other than to construct a new jail and court.
“Our county officials have endeavored over the past several years to slowly address these government functions,” said Burry. “There is no perfect plan they can come up with that is going to please everybody.”
The proposal is to construct a new jail and sheriff department on the west side of First Street in Decatur between Madison and Jefferson Streets. Commissioner Doug Bauman noted that the project would involve improvements to the entire east half of the city block.
South of Madison Street there would be a 150-200 bed jail, 40-bed work release facility and sheriff department.
The proposal also includes the construction of a superior court building which is proposed to be located on the north side of the intersection across from the jail.
“This will be built on the location of the old Shaffer Building warehouse,” said Bauman. “This would include a substantial amount of new parking north of the new building and south of the existing building now housing Star Insurance and Adams County Community Corrections.”
This building would include superior court, superior court clerk and probation. The circuit court, clerk and prosecutor would remain in the courthouse and continue to use that building. Community corrections will remain in the Star building and the work release building will become file storage for the jail and county.
The projected cost for the project is $26.6 million. County officials said that a proposed local option income tax combined with the cumulative jail fund would be sufficient to meet the debt service to fund the project.
In addition to the jail and superior court’s failure to meet government standards, Bauman said that the jail project has been necessitated because a change in state policy will dictate that some felons return to Adams County as of July 1.
“We’re looking for an inmate increase of four per year through 2037,” said Bauman. “A jail is officially considered capacity at 80 percent. The new jail could be considered full by 2039; we could be maxed out assuming we build a 200 bed jail.”
Bauman said that locating the jail and superior court at the proposed site downtown in Decatur allows position the services and functions of the courts, law enforcement and jail in close proximity to facilitate the constant interaction that each requires.
“It is believed that that locating these buildings together will facilitate the security of the courts and provide efficient and secure transfer of inmates to and from the court,” noted Bauman. “It will improve the efficiency of file transfer and retrieval between the clerk, court, and jail. It will also provide room for future expansion of both the court and jail if necessary in the foreseeable future.”
Bauman said it is also projected that the design, appearance and landscaping of the proposed buildings will enhance the appearance of First Street and will integrate well with Decatur’s plan for the river greenway development.

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