Downtown detention facility drains taxpayers wallets

KDBC

El Paso County Commissioners will host special meeting

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 12:06am

Should El Paso County continue with renovations to its Downtown Detention facility, or , close it and build a new one? That's something County Commissioners are deciding and they say it's a move that could actually save taxpayers money.

County Commissioners several different options for the Downtown facility, which costs $96 a day for one inmate. Some of their options include closing some of the floors and transferring inmates to the annex, which can house inmates at a cost of about $70 a day, or simply closing the facility down altogether.

County Commissioner Vince Perez said there are three major issues with the facility. First, it's outdated and due to its design, requires an increased amount of personnel. Second, it's an almost 30-year-old facility and needs some big improvements. For instance, as we've reported, the mold issue that had to be tackled, set the county back about $1 million, and now they also have to modernize the plumbing which can cost millions more.

Third, the jail is not ADA compliant. As to the option of demolishing the hail, Perez said that may not happen. "I think that's really premature. I mean if we were to build a smaller processing facility, the county currently has space in the parking lot that's in front of the jail. We also have some land on the side of the Federal building that's not too far behind. Ultimately, if it's more cost efficient to build a smaller processing facility then that could be something that county commissioners could explore. But ultimately, we have to look at the facts and we have to look at the numbers," County Commissioner Vince Perez, who oversees Precinct 3.

El Paso County Commissioners will host a special session Monday, August 26, at 3 pm in the Commissioners Court Lobby to discuss the issue and to review more details about how much they may be able to save taxpayers.

They also have to figure out how much a new jail will cost if they decide to build one.

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