Public Safety in Arapahoe County means many things. But an important part of public safety is the Arapahoe County Detention Center. Did you know the Arapahoe County jail serves every community in the County? While some cities and towns in the County have holding facilities, they don’t have their own jails. They rely on the Arapahoe County Jail.
The jail was not built to handle this number of inmates and the facilities do not allow proper management of these inmates, particularly those in mental or behavioral health crisis
Built more than 30 years ago, the overall infrastructure of the jail is failing. Sewage, plumbing and electrical systems are stressed. The systems are old and were never designed for the number of inmates housed there today.
The Booking and Release center in the jail is inadequate. After an arrest, all police departments in the County bring their prisoners to the Arapahoe County Jail Booking and Release center.
The result? Long processing delays for police officers taking them off the streets. Increased risks for staff. Inadequate holding space to separate men and women, those impaired by alcohol and drugs, as well as inmates with mental and behavioral problems.
About 40 percent of the jail population at any given point is experiencing a behavioral health issue. That’s more inmates than the entire population the facility was originally built to house.
And Arapahoe County’s analysis shows that the county courthouse has many of the same issues as the jail. Current facilities are overcrowded and aging. There is no room for adding needed additional courtrooms and safety issues around keeping offenders, witnesses, jurors and court workers separate are real.
Over the last decade, the county has invested in remodeling and expanding the existing facilities. In fact, about 20 percent of the county’s building improvement budget – needed for 30 buildings – has gone solely to the jail and courthouse to keep them running.
The solution is a multi-step effort that will make sure Arapahoe County spends taxpayer resources wisely by keeping offenders who need to be in jail safely in jail, diverting those who can be monitored outside a facility and engaging all offenders to avoid repeat offenses. Areas of future focus will include additional modern court facilities that can be operated more safely and provide greater access to civil and criminal courts.
The proposed justice center master plan calls for replacing the existing Arapahoe County Detention Center, the Arapahoe County District Courthouse and upgrading the facilities for the 18th Judicial District Attorney. The jail would be the first facility constructed, followed by the courthouse and then the district attorney’s offices. In addition to capital improvements, the plan also identifies the funds needed to staff, operate, and maintain these new facilities.
*2019 cost estimates
Arapahoe County’s current and projected budget cannot absorb these construction or operation costs.The county could pay for the proposal by asking voters to approve either aproperty tax or sales tax increase.
It is important to note that no decisions have been made yet by the Arapahoe County Commissioners to place any funding question on the ballot. A citizen-based advisory committee, the Long Range Planning Committee, is evaluating the various funding options and will make a recommendation to the Commission in August. You can learn more about the committee and see all the information they will be using to make their decision.