Council OKs contracts to meet jail space needs Drunken-driving prison to open in '94

November 02, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Two contracts aimed at meeting Baltimore County's current and long-range need for more jail space were unanimously approved last night by the County Council.

One agreement allows Right Turn Inc., a private firm, to operate the long-awaited county drunken-driving prison at Rosewood Center in Owings Mills.

The five-year agreement costs county government nothing because the Massachusetts-based company will operate on its own start-up money and will then collect fees from people sentenced to the 100-bed facility. County officials hope the prison can open early next year.

Under the second contract, the county will pay $75,830 for a consultant to study jail space needs over the next 20 years and make recommendations about the size and location of any new facility. A 216-bed addition to the county detention center on Kenilworth Drive in Towson is due for completion in April 1994, but county officials fear it will be full soon after it opens.

County Executive Roger B. Hayden has broached the possibility of a second detention center on the county's east side, but the joint venture of Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall and Correctional Services Group Inc. will look into the entire issue.

The current Detention Center opened in 1982 and was supposed to provide enough jail space for the then-foreseeable future. But the explosion of drug-related crime quickly left the facility overcrowded. It forced double celling, continued use of the 1956 county jail at Bosley Avenue and Towsontown Boulevard and finally, construction of the addition.

County officials hope that the new drunken-driving jail will help ease overcrowding among work-release prisoners until the new addition opens. Mr. Hayden has also begun discussions with Howard and Harford county officials, who are interested in using some of the new facility's beds.

In addition to the jail-related contracts, the council approved:

* A renegotiated contract and a five-year extension with Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Maryland to provide telephone services until 2003. The contract would reduce county telephone costs by $981,000 in the remaining five years of the current contract, and save an added $1.4 million during the second five years, according to an independent consultant hired by the county.

* A $69,160 contract, renewed annually with the Community Assistance Network, to operate two emergency cold-weather homeless shelters in Essex and Catonsville from Nov. 15 to April 15. The state money pays for two poverty agency workers to staff the shelters, one in the Banneker Community Center in Catonsville and the other at the Eastern Family Resource Center in Essex, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on nights when the temperature drops below 32 or when snow, freezing rain or sleet are falling.

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