Sarpy County Board Selects Location For New Jail

By 
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

Sarpy County plans to build a new jail on the west side of the Sarpy County Courthouse near 84th Street and Highway 370.

The Sarpy County Board of Commissioners selected the site last week and decided it would be paid for using a portion of the county’s existing property tax levy and inheritance tax revenue.

The county expects to put about $6 million per year toward the project, which is expected to cost $65 million for site preparation, design and construction.

“We will build a new, much needed multimillion-dollar jail without raising property taxes,” Sarpy County Board Chairman Don Kelly said in a news release. “This doesn’t happen by chance, but by keeping a close eye on the bottom line and our hands out of the taxpayer’s wallet.”

The new Sarpy County Jail is expected to have about 400 beds and include space for expanded programming, including mental health care and services designed to help inmates reintegrate into society and reduce recidivism.

Kelly said locating the jail on the west side of the courthouse campus would have the least impact on neighboring property owners and would place judicial and law enforcement operations in close proximity.

“Our goal is to blend the design as seamlessly as possible into our existing campus,” Kelly said. “Many people may not even be aware we’ve had a jail on our existing campus for decades, and we’d like to keep it that way.”

County officials believe a new jail is needed because the current facility has been chronically overcrowded for over 20 years. The county transports inmates to other jurisdictions for boarding, costing taxpayers about $500,000 annually – costs that are expected to rise.

Sarpy County has launched efforts to keep people out of jail, including work release, diversion and electronic monitoring. Last year, those efforts saved taxpayers an estimated $7.7 million.

But the current jail has still remained noncompliant with the Nebraska Minimum Jail Standards due to space constraints. Kelly said Legislative Bill 605, passed in 2015, exacerbated the jail overcrowding by shifting state prison populations to the counties.

“It’s ironic that the state is pointing the finger at Sarpy County for a problem they helped create,” Kelly said in a release. “The costs to house the additional people in our jail is a cost to Sarpy County taxpayers, and we’ve seen the number of probation detainees go up almost 40% since LB 605 went into effect.”

The county plans to begin work on formal design early next year after selecting an architect. The new facility won’t be open until at least 2023, and the current jail will remain open in the meantime.

For more information on the project, visit bit.ly/sarpyjailfaq.

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