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County Board Approves Another Jail Study

Updated: Friday, July 25 2014, 11:21 PM CDT
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- Champaign County Board Chair Alan Kurtz says an action plan is needed to assess county jail conditions. He says the county can't afford to keep two failing facilities.

"We don't have the proper facility to handle the increased mental health problems, physical problems and violent offenders," Kurtz said.

This study follows another from September, which board members say focused more on reviewing the entire justice system and failed to assess actual building needs.

"If you don't maintain your property, which there has been a lack of maintenance at the downtown facility, sooner or later you have to update, renovate and the cost of renovation nowadays sometimes exceeds the cost of building new," Board member Stan James said.

The new study will cost about $150,000. But include last year's review and the county has spent nearly $400,000 on the jail. Kurtz says it's a necessary cost to help save money down the line.

"It's costing us more money to run two units...but over the long haul, if we can have a facility that will help reduce incarceration, we're gonna reduce taxpayer dollars," Kurtz said.

While many residents say the money could be used elsewhere, resident Melissa Massa thinks the investment is worthwhile.

"I don't think mental patients should be in with prisoners, it's just gonna make them worse instead of helping them get better, I would think. If conditions are bad then I think that should be fixed," Massa said.County Board Approves Another Jail Study

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