PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County’s new $17 million jail is nearly ready for inmates. While the project is under budget, Sheriff John Gautney says the move-in date has been pushed out a few weeks. "Our biggest issue that we’ve got right now is, being held up by a lack of enough electricians to get all of the low-voltage equipment working in the building. It’s coming along; they’re working some overtime hours to get it done. But, it has been slowed down a little bit, because of that." The project is funded by a bond approved by voters in 2016.
Construction began last year. Gautney expects it’ll be finished by June 14, just a week ahead of the public dedication planned for June 22. "I don't expect we'll have inmates in there now, before mid-July or even the end of July," Sheriff Gautney tells KBND News, "And, the reason for that is, once they turn the building over to us, then we have about a month and a half-worth of training that we have to do with the staff. The vendors who put in the electronics and everything have to be here to train the staff on how to use it and also to do, basically, a shake-down on the building, to make sure everything’s working the way it’s supposed to before we put inmates in there."
The new jail is being build behind Crook County's much smaller current jail (pictured, right). The new facility will have 76 beds, compared to the current 16. Gautney says the biggest change for his staff will be a larger inmate population, "We won’t be sending inmates to Jefferson County, so we’ll be having more inmates here to work with. I think that’ll be a bit of a change for our deputies. That’s why we’re doing the training. The academy will be here doing some training; we have other counties who are coming over to help do training." Until the new jail is ready, Gautney says he'll continue to rent space for 25 inmates at the Jefferson County Jail. "Our current contract, as it is, does expire on June 30. But, the county has been talking with Jefferson County and my understanding, from what I’ve been told by our legal, we enter a month-to-month after that. Because, obviously, we can’t move all the inmates on one day."
Once it is ready, Gautney expects to move in the 16 inmates from the current Crook County Jail, first, followed by those housed in Madras. Then, he says, the agency will catch up on a waiting list of people who haven’t been able to serve their sentence due to overcrowding. "We have a waiting list of about 50-something people, so it’ll give us a chance to work that list down."
On June 22, the Sheriff will host a grand opening ceremony and dedication, immediately followed by public tours, 4-7 p.m. The new jail is located at 308 NE 2nd Street, in Prineville.