Author of study defends call for more jail space

April 13, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

The firm that authored the 1990 report projecting Anne Arundel County would need jail space for nearly 1,450 inmates by the year 2005 stood by those figures yesterday in the wake of a challenge from a former corrections planner who criticized them as inflated.

Stephen Carter, president of Carter Goble Associates Inc., the South Carolina law enforcement facilities planner that did the 1990 study for the county, said the company did take into account a change in state law that lengthened the local jail stays of felons.

"We were aware," he said.

Former state and local corrections planner William E. Lamb Jr. challenged the inmate projections last week as baseless and overblown, and said that a new $100 million jail is not needed. He said the consultant's report never mentioned the 1986 change in state law, when the General Assembly mandated that counties keep inmates serving short sentences in their local jails.

The change in the law created a "blip" increase in the number of inmates, Mr. Lamb said. But that population explosion of the late 1980s should not be expected to continue; instead, it would start an entirely different population pattern, one showing less rapid increases.

Mr. Carter agreed that the 1986 law was not mentioned in the report, while other factors were.

"There is a lot that goes into a study that does not go into a report," Mr. Carter said.

The study cost the county $85,000.

County Executive Robert Neall has called for building a 650-cell jail, and a study is under way to identify how large and what type of facility could be added to the Jennifer Road detention center.

Mr. Lamb is the son of County Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, who represents Annapolis and who has voiced opposition to building a new jail on Jennifer Road, but the two said they keep their political distance.

Yesterday, Mr. Lamb said he stands by his statements that Carter Goble's projections are inaccurate and a new study is needed to depict the jail population accurately.

"They have ignored the major cause of the change," Mr. Lamb said.

Asked how the consultant arrived at its projections, Mr. Carter said many factors were considered. "There is no science to this projecting," he said. "It is a very inexact science."

In projecting an approximately 10 percent a year increase in the number of inmates, he pointed out, his firm has come close to the actual number incarcerated. The Carter Goble firm projected 644 for 1993. So far this fiscal year, the average jail population is 630, which Mr. Lamb said was a coincidence.

"Nobody would project a 10 percent increase in the jail population with a 1 percent increase in the population -- unless you really, really believe that, socially, you are going down the drain," Mr. Lamb said.

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