December 18, 2019
December 18, 2019
Detention Facility Meeting at the Joliet Community Center. Commissioners Robert ‘Pits’ DeArmond and Scott Blain, Sheriff Josh McQuillan, Commissioners’ Secretary Barbara Daniel, and Administrative Officer Angela Newell were present.
Members of the public in attendance as follows: Emily Ringer, Charlie Ringer, Mariline Adkins, Bob Adkins, Aaron T. Smith, Kevin T. Smith, Lena Witcher, Ken Witcher, Shirley Miller, Michael Manweiler, Mike Cline, Brenda Cline, Forrest Mandeville, Amber Forechterle, Jackie Schara, Marla Moody, Steve Simonson, Jamee Weber, Robert Weber, Gordon Sirrine, Elaine Sielinsky, Bill Sielinsky, James Smith, Lacey Breding, Brandon Nitikarski, Joe LaRue, Joan Pawlowski, Lonnie Pawlowski, David Schaible, Gina Schaible, Kelley Evans, Brandi Mains, Frank Gray, Gwynn Tobel, Jolyn Evertz, Merrylee Vukonich, Larry Vukonich, Jolene McQuillan, John Francis, Betty Grewell, Edwin Sharpe, Cara Blaylock, Gary Gray, Alie Bieir, Melvin Hoferer, Bob Hull, Ernest King, Trish Eik, Allan L. Huso, Chuck Roush, Margaret Botts, Dave Vickern, Walter Larson, Carly May, Amy Peterson, Sandy Matlock, John Matlock, Joel Atkins, Sgt Codi Peters, Kelly Carrington, Bob Reed, Anthony Songstar, Alastair Baker, Mike Berscheid, Kathey Berscheid, Maddie Alpart, Donald Wilson, Dana Wilson, Curt Schwartz, Joyce Schwartz, Ken Lloyd, Phyllis Lloyd, Jennifer Prumley, Carol Byerly, Charlie Byerly, John Hardwood, Tim Notingham, Elton C Kirlley, Calvin Roorda, Jerrid Bergum, Christine Bergum, and Judy Manweiler.
6:00 pm Pledge of Allegiance
Commissioner Blain opened the meeting with introductions.
Sheriff McQuillan gave an overview of the history of the County detention facility that closed in 2001 and contracts with various other counties for detention services. He noted issues with contract facilities such as Yellowstone and Gallatin County detention facilities being at capacity which has resulted in inmates being transported farther and farther away. Sheriff McQuillan also noted that only the worst of the worst are being detained because of the lack of availability and the travel required to bring someone to a facility with open bed space. Sheriff McQuillan gave an overview of the alternatives his office uses to keep people from spending time in a detention facility. He and his officers will continue to emphasize the use of alternatives to detention.
Sheriff McQuillan also noted insurance issues with housing inmates in Cody and the Two Rivers facility in Hardin. Sheriff McQuillan noted the County currently housed 10-15 inmates per day at other facilities. The lack of space puts a burden on his officers; every time they arrest someone, they have to weigh the public safety risk of releasing that individual or leaving their patrol for an extended period of time to transport them to a facility that has room. He noted Stillwater and Sweet Grass counties are in the same position. Sheriff McQuillan noted many arrests are tied to drug and alcohol use and that the prevalence of meth and heroin has increased.
Commissioner Blain discussed the planning process the Commissioners have gone through and answered some of the frequently asked questions including:
1. Why is the County considering a 100-bed facility? Commissioner Blain noted there are operational efficiencies in staffing once a facility reached the 80-bed mark. It was rounded up to 100 to help accommodate growth.
2. Why is the facility not being paid for by the other two counties? Commissioner Blain noted a bond measure would have to pass in all three counties and the Commissioners do not want to risk the project on another county’s bond measure. Carbon County will have contracts with participating counties to guarantee a number of beds are paid for whether that county uses them or not. Commissioner Blain noted the cost to Carbon County taxpayers will likely be close to the same; it is a matter of whether it is all for bricks and mortar or bricks and mortar and operating.
3. Why locate the facility in Joliet? Commissioner Blain noted the availability of workforce makes the Joliet area very appealing. He noted there are also cost savings for hooking the facility into existing water and sewer infrastructure rather than building a standalone system. The meeting was opened up to questions from the audience.
There was an inquiry regarding contracting transportation; Sheriff Josh McQuillan is not aware of any businesses providing this service. He also noted this would only address transportation for court and does not address transportation for the initial arrest or issues with contract facilities being full.
There was a discussion regarding the benefits to the Town of Joliet, including jobs, some assistance with water upgrades, and the Town would have an additional water customer. Some members of the audience expressed concerns about water availability.
Questions were raised about the liability of taking other counties inmates; Commissioner Blain noted each County will be responsible for the medical care expenses of their inmates. Commissioners expect to contract medical services.
There were questions about detention officer training; Sheriff Josh McQuillan noted the Montana Law Enforcement Academy has a detention officer basic training that would have to be completed. The certification requires a GED or High School Diploma.
There was a discussion about having “undesirable” people into the community. Sheriff Josh McQuillan noted the difference between a jail and a prison. Sheriff Josh McQuillan noted people in the facility will not be there long term. It was noted there are over 200 outstanding warrants in Carbon County, so many of those people are already in our community. Sheriff Josh McQuillan also noted, like the counties Carbon is currently contracting with, when an inmate is released, they will need a ride away from the facility or they will be given a ride. Hal Lewis noted he recognizes people that he works with walking around the community who have outstanding warrants and the Sheriff has nowhere to put them. He also noted his concerns that the Sheriff does not remember the last time someone went to jail for a DUI.
There was a brief discussion regarding the land proposal from the Town of Fromberg. There is a community meeting Friday night to gather input.
Other land sites were discussed. It was noted the Farber site north of Beartooth Electric has been withdrawn. There is not another viable site in Red Lodge.
There were concerns expressed about the facilities impact on local property values; Commissioner Blain noted the research he has seen indicates that detention facilities have no significant impact on property values.
Sheriff Josh McQuillan and Commissioner Blain discussed recidivism and the implementation of treatment programs to help people stay out of jail. Sheriff Josh McQuillan noted the problems with meth and heroin are not going away. This was echoed by a resident who works as a nurse for the Yellowstone County Detention Facility.
There was a discussion regarding the Sheriff’s budget. Commissioners are in the process of trying to narrow down construction and operating budgets. Once those numbers are firmer, they will be able to put together information regarding the cost of a bond.
Respectfully submitted: Angela Newell, Administrative Officer