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Improvements sought for Lake County jail - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Improvements sought for Lake County jail

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POLSON - The author of a special report confirms what many Lake County leaders have been saying for years -- the county's jail is old, overcrowded and needs to be replaced -- the question is how to solve the problem.

An assessment of the Lake County Detention Center last week identified several issues. Pressure has been mounting to address problems there for decades.

The author of a special report confirms what many Lake County leaders have been saying for years -- the county's jail is old, overcrowded and needs to be replaced -- the question is how to solve the problem.

An assessment of the Lake County Detention Center last week identified several issues, while pressure has been mounting to address problems there for decades -- and officials in Lake County are losing patience when it comes to their justice system.

"The jail clearly needs to be replaced," said Mark Goldman, who is a Justice Facility Planner with National Institute of Corrections. "A larger jail, a more contemporary jail and one that functions much better is needed."

Goldman says the biggest issue facing the detention center is a lack of space, as it currently holds 46 inmates.

"The jail may be the most obvious and severe, but it is not going to solve any of the other problems, such as court movement and security in this building," Goldman said. "The facility only has one elevator, and right now inmates and the public share it, and that is a public safety issue."

Goldman says the next step is to determine what is needed most at the facility and how much those improvements would cost. Lake County Sheriff Don Bell is hoping the community can get behind it.

"The next assessment would be in the community, and commissioners decide to go forward with it, would be an assessment to see what all needs to be done," Bell said. "Bed space, parts for medical and parts for all the things they've seen that are lacking."

The needs assessment usually takes about six months. The future of the Lake County's justice system is expected to eventually be decided by the voters in some sort of a bond issue.

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