Adams County Board of Supervisors taking next steps towards new jail

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The Adams County Board of Supervisors is in talks to get a new jail and law enforcement facility. The current one is not big enough to house all the prisoners and has a number of maintenance issues.

The Adams County Jail is a costly facility that some members of the county board believe will be shut down eventually. Now they are working on building a new one. (KSNB)

The jail committee met on Tuesday night and are closing in on a design and location they would want for the facility. Now they are waiting to hear how much the project would cost. The location they are considering the most is north of the courthouse where the annex building is. They would tear that building down, which has a number of its own issues and build there and on the parking lot.

The current jail was built back in the early 1960's and has a number of maintenance issues that make it unsafe for the prisoners and jailers.

“We're going to get closed down sooner or later. Right now interest rates are very low which would help keep the cost down,” Supervisor Scott Thomsen said.

One bailiff mentioned that sometimes while in court the weight room above will be so loud it disrupts court proceedings. With all the issues it has, Thomsen said it is only being kept open due to being grandfathered in.

“There are safety concerns for our deputies and our jailers up there. We have physical issues with maintenance all the time, water leaks, heating, air conditioning. It's just an outdated facility,” Thomsen said.

The current jail can only hold 37 men and they can't take in women of juveniles. The county pays over $1 million a year to house an additional 35 people at other jails in different jails in Hall, Buffalo, and Phelps counties. Deputies have to travel as far as Lexington to get prisoners for their arraignments or trials. In the new facility, the jail, courtrooms, and sheriff's office would all be under one roof.

“I think it's an important thing to have the courts the same place as the jail. At present we are transporting prisoners even though the courthouse around the public,” Thomsen said. “That's not a safe way to do that. With a new facility, you can pretty much take a prisoner from their cell and enter into a courtroom.
they are almost to the point where the public can get involved in the process.”

The jail committee is planning on having a public meeting in January for people to ask questions about the project. They also plan to get the measure on the 2020 November ballot so the county will ultimately decide what will happen with the jail.