County corrections center close to drawing-board phase

A new center that would house offenders sentenced to work release or home detention would have more space for classes and programs for people with addiction or mental illness issues.

County officials have been discussing the details of what should be included in a new $4 million to $5 million community corrections facility. They know they want to have enough space to house 160 to 170 offenders, sufficient office space and at least two classrooms.

Commissioners recently approved hiring DLZ to design the facility but would still need approval from the county council to spend the money. That is yet another step in the process to build the facility. If DLZ is hired, the center likely would not be ready for another two years, said Albert Hessman, community corrections director.

The county has been talking with DLZ for months about what they want in a new community corrections facility, Commissioner Ron West said.

“We need a new community corrections facility and have for a long time,” West said.

At the top of the wish list is more space, Hessman said.

He envisions the new facility being two stories but said that will ultimately be up to the designers.

The goal for the new center is to be able to house 160 to 170 offenders, compared to 100 now. And more of those offenders would be women. Right now, the current facility has space for 10 women; Hessman wants room for at least 25 in a new facility. He also wants more flexibility to be able to separate offenders as needed.

Another top priority is classroom space.

Hessman said he would like at least two classrooms or at least one that can be separated into two when needed.

Those classrooms are an important part of the new center because the county can use them to provide help and resources to offenders to try to stop them from being arrested again, West said. But he said deciding what programs to offer based on the size of the building will take some time.

“There is a tremendous public awareness of mental health, addiction aspects of people incarcerated,” West said.

Both the state and federal governments have set aside money for those programs, with the goal of stopping people from committing another crime, he said.

The county wants to help those people, both while they are serving their sentence and after, West said. Keeping those people out of jail and helping them be productive in society will actually save money long term, he said.

Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.