Plan could triple prison population in SJC jail
A proposal that would nearly triple the number of inmates in the county jail is worth a closer look. That was the opinion of San Juan County Commissioners at the September 10 Commission meeting.
Commissioners met with San Juan County Sheriff Mike Lacy and several of his deputies to discuss the proposal. Kenneth Shulsen of Sahara, Inc., a professional construction services company, also participated in the discussion.
While still in the preliminary stages, the proposal would add approximately 200 beds to the public safety building, in addition to increasing the judicial system complex at the site.
Lacy stated that the existing land at the jail site would be adequate for the expansion, which was given a rough estimate price tag of between $10 and 15 million.
The cells would be built to the south and east of the existing building, while expanded court offices would go to the north and west.
The county may use the municipal building authority to expand the facility and use state corrections and judicial leases to pay for the project.
At the current time, there are 105 beds in the facility, which houses 73 state inmates. The remainder of the beds are used for the county jail. The facility is operating at full capacity.
Lacy said he would “like to get started today” on the project, which he said would have a big impact on the community. The state inmates generate roughly $100,000 a month for the county from the state.
The San Juan County jail is the only county site in the state prison system that offers treatment for sex offenders. There are an estimated 800 convicted sex offenders in the state prison system and limited opportunities for them to go through the treatment program.
In addition, San Juan and Duchesne counties are the only two county programs in the state that offer educational programs through Utah State University. As a result of these programs, a large number of prison inmates seek to go to the San Juan County facility.
Shulsen estimated that it would take approximately one year to expand the facility. The next steps include building support for the expansion with the state prison and judicial systems, seeking the support of the Governor and legislature, and prioritizing projects for funding from the state Community Impact Board.