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Kansas jail looks at modular units to deal with overcrowding

November 27, 2017

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A sheriff’s office in eastern Kansas is considering modular units as a temporary solution to jail overcrowding.

Douglas County Undersheriff Gary Bunting is exploring a type of free-standing, temporary cell block to increase on-site capacity at the county jail, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

His office said the jail has more inmates than its 186 beds can accommodate. Some inmates have even been placed in laundry rooms and rooms reserved for programming when the jail is overcapacity.

He said completion of any projects involving jail expansion is at least three years away, so the county may resort to doublewide modular units as a temporary fix.

“It’s something we are just starting to look at,” he said. “We can’t put another bunk in our existing cells. The architects say there’s not enough room.”

Cells for male inmates in the jail were designed to have 35 square feet (3.25 square meters) of space, said Jeff Lane, a principal with Treanor Architects who designed the current jail and is working on ideas for expansion. That space is the minimum the American Correctional Association requires for a single-bunk cell.

Bunting said stacking beds would obscure windows that give officers a view into cells, and placing a bunk on the ground is too unsanitary.

The sheriff’s office will study the units’ design, cost and security before making a decision, but a temporary fix may be inevitable, he said.

“Three years,” Bunting said. “That’s what I’m afraid of. We are already reaching the point where we don’t have space to put anybody. In three years, I don’t know how we can avoid doing (modular units).”


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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