Build one large jail to handle all inmates, Neall is urged

April 13, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

The Planning Advisory Board last night told County Executive Robert R. Neall that he should build a new jail to handle all inmates, instead of creating separate maximum- and minimum-security facilities.

The five-member board, which reviews all county building projects, rejected Mr. Neall's proposal for $1.16 million in planning money for a 384-bed jail in Glen Burnie that would house minimum-security inmates. The money, part of the proposed 1996 fiscal year budget that Mr. Neall will submit to the County Council on May 2, would match the $1.16 million approved by the General Assembly.

Mr. Neall wants to renovate the existing jail on Jennifer Road in Annapolis for maximum-security and pretrial inmates after the Glen Burnie jail is built. The budget office estimated the cost of the new jail annex and renovation of the existing jail at $46.5 million.

As an alternative to two facilities, four board members recommended that the county stick with an earlier plan to spend $7 million to renovate the existing jail in the interim and plan a new jail complex elsewhere.

Dallas Evans, the planning board chairman, said that spending $7 million on Jennifer Road would be a waste of money. Instead, the county should move ahead with building a new jail complex on another site, be it the property on Ordnance Road in Glen Burnie chosen last month by the County Council, or some other location. Mr. Evans was critical of county politicians who have not been able to make the politically unpopular decision of designating a site for a new jail complex, instead caving in to pressure from constituents.

The planning board's decision is not binding on Mr. Neall. But if he deviates from the board's recommendation, he must provide an official explanation.

The planning board approved the rest of Mr. Neall's proposed $163 million capital budget, which includes $24 million to begin construction of the new Circuit Courthouse and $34.8 million for school construction.

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