The medical ward at the Chaves County Detention Center will be reconstructed to include up-to-date facilities for mental health and medical care. (Jill McLaughlin Photo)
County commissioners will consider awarding a $15.2 million contract for general construction services today for the remodel and addition project planned at the adult and juvenile detention centers.
Bradbury Staff Construction of Albuquerque is expected to be selected as the contractor for the project, beating out three other companies for the job.
The county conducted a solicitation process through a qualification-based selection process, choosing the best qualified firm for the project, according to the staff report. The county was not retracted to accepting the lowest bid and ranked companies on a scoring system.
The Adult Detention Center, at 3701 S. Atkinson Ave., will see new building additions, renovations and site improvements. The juvenile detention center, at 119 E. Fourth St., will receive renovations to the existing building, including replacement and improvement to the electronic security system.
A Texas-based architect who specializes in jail facilities assisted the county in planning for the projects, said County Manager Stan Riggs.
In the juvenile detention facility, the security controls are antiquated, said Public Services Director Sonny Chancey.
“This will bring it up to state-of-the art,” Chancey said.
The adult detention center will undergo several major changes, additions and modern renovations to existing areas.
Several repairs will be made, space will be added and new programs started to accommodate more inmates and create an improved program.
“I want the public to be proud of this building,” said Chaves County Detention Center Administrator Clay Corn.
The showers will be refinished, the central control room will be modified and more visibility will be created in the corridors.
A new video visitation room will be added outside the building, allowing inmates to conference with family and friends. A small cost will be involved for the video visits, but it will allow those who want to communicate an opportunity to chat online via a laptop or computer from anywhere, Corn said.
The adult detention center will bring back a work-release program with the new construction. Special dorms will be constructed for male and female inmates who will be allowed to leave in the morning, work a full day and return at night. The inmates will be drug tested and searched upon return to the facility, Corn said.
The program is expected to allow those inmates who are detained for short times, while waiting for a hearing or sentenced for not paying a fine or failing to appear in court, to keep their jobs and not damage their financial situations or families.
“We’re really excited about that,” Corn said. “It helps keep the community more economically sound.”
The female population, which is at 44, tends to increase, Corn said. Many are detained for drug related arrests, he said. A new wing will be constructed to hold an additional 33 female inmates, and eight for the work-release program.
A new eight-bed medical ward will also be built, replacing an older medical care unit. The new unit will provide better care for women, mental health services and for the influx of conditions the center sees, such as diabetes, hepatitis, heart disease and drug issues.
“The need is definitely there,” Chancey said.
The modern medical facility will accommodate the needs of mentally ill patients, who can be exposed to more officer-supervised social situations, Corn said. The inmates will be able to visit a day room, instead of being confined to single cells, where they must watch television through a barred window.
“It’s important,” Corn said. “We want them to have as much social stimulation that they can.”
The facility will have doctors and psychologists in the day room where patients can talk at a table.
Another plan Corn hopes to implement within the next year is a “Peanut Butter and Jelly” program. The behavior-driven activity will allow inmates to be rewarded with visiting their biological children in a special family room that will be added with the new construction.
Detention Center staff will also get a new area, built on the outside of the building. Currently, staff take breaks inside their vehicles or elsewhere.
Other areas to be improved will be an intake and booking area, a data entry area, new offices, a detox center with padded cells and a release center.
Construction could start next month and is expected to take 22 months to finish.
The process will be carefully planned. Detention staff will meet weekly to talk about logistics with the contractor, such as where construction will occur and the placement of tools, for security purposes.
“We’re going to have to adjust weekly,” Corn said. “It’s going to be a challenge.”
The adult facility was meant to serve as a short-term solution for inmates. But with the court system today, cases are taking longer to be resolved. Some 75 to 80 percent of those detained in Chaves County’s center are waiting for trial or have been sentenced for less than a year, Riggs said.
The contract for $15.2 million will not include Gross Receipts Tax.
In other business, commissioners will consider entering in a mutual aid agreement with Eddy County for emergency assistance.
The agreement will allow the counties to provide each other with fire and police support during extreme emergencies.