Jennifer Road jail renovation being planned

February 25, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

County officials said yesterday they are making plans for a $10 million renovation of the Detention Center on Jennifer Road near Annapolis instead of waiting for the County Council to decide the fate of a new jail.

Detention Center supervisor Richard Baker told the Planning Advisory Board that renovation is desperately needed at the overcrowded and deteriorating jail, which was built in 1967 and has been added to several times.

The proposed renovation would not expand the jail capacity.

Although the jail can hold up to 750 inmates and has been averaging only about 550, prisoners are crowded into dormitories that were designed for far fewer people than they now hold, causing security problems, Mr. Baker said.

"The place is not designed for the type of criminal we're getting," he said. "We've had people seriously assaulted."

The County Council decided in November 1992 to expand the jail at Jennifer Road instead of building another facility elsewhere in the county.

County Executive Robert R. Neall hired a consultant, who came up with a three-phase, $71 million plan that would have doubled the size of the jail.

That plan was scuttled last October, when Gov. William Donald Schaefer denied the county's request for half the construction money, saying he opposed expansion at the Jennifer Road site.

Gregory V. Nourse, a budget analyst, said there is $3.2 million available to begin designing a new kitchen, a larger booking facility, a women's infirmary and additional administrative and program space.

L The plan also includes renovation of inmate living quarters.

A perimeter fence would be constructed and there would be some aesthetic improvement along the side of the jail that faces U.S. 50.

The $1.8 million approved for expansion design could be transferred by the County Council to the renovation project.

And there is about $1.4 million left over in state bond money that, with the approval of the General Assembly, could be diverted to the renovation.

The rest of the money would be requested in the 1996 fiscal year budget. Construction would be completed by the end of 1997.

Although renovations would buy him about five years before he needs more space, Mr. Baker warned against delaying selection of a jail site. Construction, he noted, would take three to five years.

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