Jail may soon need addition cell space

January 27, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

While Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden and Sheriff Norman M. Pepersack Jr. are fighting over control of the county's jail system, they agree on one thing: the county may vTC need more cells for its prisoners.

That's why the county is preparing to launch a $150,000 study of jail population trends in the county over the next 20 years. The study will also recommend a location for a new detention center should one be needed.

The Baltimore firm of Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall Correctional Services Group Inc., was selected from seven bidders for the study. The sheriff and public works department are working with the firm now. The County Council must also approve the contract.

Sheriff Pepersack said he has been pushing for the study since he took office 1990, because he thinks a new, 216-bed addition to the main detention center on Kenilworth Drive will fill up as soon as it opens in 1994.

Mr. Hayden has also said he thinks a new jail may be needed in the next few years -- possibly on the county's east side.

The main Detention Center on Kenilworth Drive in Towson opened in 1982 with a capacity of 326. After years of converting single-bed cells to doubles, the building now typically holds more than 500 inmates. Some sleep three to a cell.

The old county jail, built in 1956, and the original county jail, built in the mid-19th century, are about six blocks south on Bosley Avenue at Towsontown Boulevard.

The two older buildings house female, work-release and weekend prisoners with the aid of several modern modular units erected on a parking lot.

Kurt Buckler, the county's chief of public buildings design, said the state has been pushing the county to conduct a new jail population study, too.

Mr. Hayden has said he will submit legislation to the County Council next to regain control of the 900-inmate jail system from the sheriff's office. Former County Executive Donald P. Hutchinson turned the jail over to the sheriff in 1979.

Sheriff Pepersack has vowed to fight the takeover, although most members of the council are siding with the executive.

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