Bids for detention center are $1 million over budget

January 29, 1993|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Staff Writer

Citing severe overcrowding at the Carroll County Detention Center, Sheriff John H. Brown pleaded yesterday with the county commissioners to find an additional $1 million to begin building a desperately needed detention center addition this spring.

"I'm sick over this," Sheriff Brown said last week, when 16 bids were opened and all were about $1 million over the county estimate of $2.2 million.

The county planned to build an 18,000 square-foot addition for 80 more beds and other renovations, but the higher bids forced county officials to delay awarding a contract.

The lowest bid was $3,083,000, from H. A. Harris Co. Inc. in Towson. The highest bid was $3,590,000 from Harbor View Contractors, Inc. in Baltimore.

State officials had agreed to pay for about half of the work, said Tom Rio, chief of building construction. The project has been planned for at least 2 1/2 years.

There are no frills in the project, Sheriff Brown told the commissioners. He called the renovations a "bare bones plan."

The commissioners said they would look at the situation and would seek additional money from the state.

Work on the project, which would take about a year, was scheduled to begin this spring, Mr. Rio said.

Statistics showed that the detention center housed 132 prisoners in the 120-bed detention center last weekend, forcing officials there to use cots in a day room and hallways to accommodate the population.

Eight beds in the 16-bed isolation section and six beds in the 12-bed female wing cannot be used by the general male population, the commissioners were told.

The use of cots "can lead to trouble," Sheriff Brown said.

"Public safety can't wait. We're sitting on a powder keg that could blow at any time.

"Adding more inmates to the work release program would help during the day," the sheriff said, "but they still return to the detention center at night.

"Home monitoring would alleviate some of the overcrowding, but then I would need additional deputies to monitor that program 24 hours every day.

"And I can't see this happening without the detention center addition."

The commissioners also were asked to pay for nine additional deputies currently needed in the detention section, to cut down overtime pay and eliminate burn-out that has affected some deputies.

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