Decision on status of detention center on tap Friday

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MINERAL COUNTY officials postponed deciding on a jail reopening solution after a delayed proposal. (File photo)

Mineral County commissioners and County Attorney Ellen Donohue hope to reach a solution to reopen the jail, which closed in January due to a staff shortage, on Friday, June 14 following a postponed deadline.

Officials originally intended to review a proposal by Mike Thatcher, a private prison CEO, on Friday, June 7, which would have helped them decide. But a short deadline didn’t allow officials enough time to communicate with Thatcher about the proposal details.

“I don’t think a week gave us enough time,” Donohue said.

Thatcher met with county officials to tour the jail and hold a public meeting on Friday, May 28, where they discussed leasing the jail. Thatcher runs Community, Counseling and Correctional Services Inc. (CCCS).

The county hoped to receive an official proposal by Friday, June 7, but following a delayed response to Thatcher’s questions, he was unable to submit a proposal in that time frame.

“We feel like they’re interested,” Donohue says. “They seem to be very interested, but we haven’t gotten anything.” Donohue takes full responsibility for not getting information to Thatcher in time.

One idea was that Thatcher would reserve 16 beds while the remaining ten beds would be reserved for Mineral County inmates. For example, Thatcher’s reserved beds could be used for overflow probationary inmates from Lake County while the county’s reserved beds would be used for criminals arrested in Mineral County.

THATCHER ALSO discussed having a treatment center in the county down the road as an additional facility to help the program, and to add and maintain jobs. “It’s a longer-term treatment concept,” Thatcher said. “That’s something you should parallel to the discussion.” Thatcher says treatment facilities are a niche operation, and the county has potential to have separate programming.

Mineral County resident Diane Magone also suggested creating a Temporary Contractual Agreement for Coordinating Position. The county would hire a temporary person on a three- to six-month contract who will be responsible for “exploring the options available to reopen the county detention center in a timely manner and performing all duties that would accomplish this goal,” according to the proposal.

The coordinator would create foundational procedures to recruit and retain employees and potentially work in tandem with CCCS to reopen the jail.

“I kind of like the idea of that because it’s hard to kind of coordinate this when everyone already has other fulltime jobs,” Donohue said.

The next detention center meeting will discuss these options on Friday, June 14 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. This meeting is open to the public.

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