Tag Archives: project

Case Study: Pennington County Jail, SD

County Information
There are many examples that could be studied to have a good grasp of what a proper jail facility that meets all pertinent national corrections standards. I picked this one because of the total cost of the two phase jail expansion project. $18 million. You read that right, $18 million dollars to expand and replace their existing 276 bed facility. (Ref: 11th paragraph)

Pennington County, South Dakota, aside from not having a border exposure like we do here, along with a smaller county population of approximately 108,242 (based on current U.S. Census data), does have some interesting factors that bring it into a rough equivalence with Whatcom County.

Namely Rapid City with a population of 70,812Ellsworth Air Force Base,  Thief River Falls Regional Airport and Mount Rushmore National Park, all of which bring considerable business, tourism and travel to Pennington County. Ellsworth Air Force Base is a military base obviously, but it is also essentially an international airport which USAF personnel and retirees use for ‘space A’ travel.

Having said all of that, Pennington County is not the same as Whatcom County and I’m not suggesting it is, but there are still many useful comparisons that can be drawn from studying their jail expansion project evolution. It all seems to have been very well thought out, well planned and perhaps the more interesting point,….with agreement and support from all county stakeholders.

“The current capacity of Pennington County Jail is 580, not including the 20 holding cells in the Booking area. The Pennington County Jail continues to embrace progress as it adapts to meet the ever changing needs of the citizens of Pennington County.” (Ref: last paragraph.)

Ref: Pennington County Jail History

The Jail Project
The jail expansions happened in two major phases resulting in construction and timely completion.

PHASE I: Pennington County Jail Annex, Pennington County, South Dakota, Skyline Engineering (Completed in 2006.) (Click link for downloadable pdf of Jail engineering doc from Skyline Engineering, LLC.)

The Pennington County Jail project included:
—A new 4-story, 128 bed multi-level security facility.
—Two full floors of additional shelled space for future development.
—The building is situated on the Courthouse Complex campus, adjacent to the Public Safety Building and the existing Jail.
—A new connector from the central plant to the facility.
—A three level parking structure was also included in the project.
—92,000 square feet.

Construction cost: $10 million

PHASE II: Pennington County Jail Expansion Project, Skyline Engineering (Completed in 2009.) (Click link for downloadable pdf of Jail expansion engineering doc from Skyline Engineering, LLC.)

—Completed two additional floors.

— 41,500 SF project involved finish of the shelled spaces.
—The second floor was finished to include 58 beds of minimum-security configured in sleeping bays.
—The third floor was finished for 24 cells of medium-security.
—Added 8 cells of maximum-security space.
—Additional dayrooms, showers, recreation spaces, multipurpose spaces and support facilities were developed for each finished level.
—The Mechanical and electrical designs extended the existing systems to support the new spaces.

Construction Cost: $5,800,000
Total jail project cost: $15.8 Million.

—The footprint of this building would easily fit in the parking lot adjacent to the Whatcom County Courthouse and would actually INCREASE parking as well as inmate capacity.
—The footprint of this structure would easily fit on the property already owned and permitted on Division Street too.
—In either location, the jail logistical/transport issues have already been worked out.

Why couldn’t an additional floor or two (or more) of maximum security space be added to this design for the Courthouse parking lot area or Division Street? A floor or two could also be added for alternative/medical/mental health services. They could be added subterranean to minimize building height.

In fact TWO more entire structures like this could be added to BOTH locations, as well as razing the current Sheriff’s Office/jail afterwards and building a brand new SO and it would still be a fraction of what we’re being told now.

Pennington County Sheriff’s Office
“The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office has 372 employees, an annual budget of approximately $28 million, and serves over 100,000 citizens spread out over Pennington County’s 2,784 square miles. We also serve a high number of visitors and tourists to our area as Pennington County is home to Mount Rushmore National Monument and Ellsworth Air Force Base.”

“City/County Alcohol & Drug Programs (CCADP) – provides a safe place for individuals struggling with the difficulty of addiction. CCADP houses the City/County Detox Center and serves a host of other individuals through various treatment programs. We currently have a capacity of about 110 beds.”

“Jail – We are very proud of the fact that our 587 bed jail complies with the national standards set by the American Correctional Association, (ACA) which safeguard the life, health and safety of our staff and individuals incarcerated within our jail.”

Ref: Pennington County Sheriff, South Dakota

In conclusion, if certain people weren’t playing political games, this expansion could have already been completed AND PAID FOR years ago with existing funds. Instead, today, twelve years after the first .1% jail tax was approved, we are still mired in costly and complicated political games, political agenda strategies and the like, primarily from two camps.

This should be a done and over issue, which could have made way in time and resources for progress on other fronts of public safety concern which I’ll come back around to later.

(In-progress. I’m short on time at the moment, so I’ll finish up/edit this later. I just wanted to get the rough information out now while it’s being debated, instead of waiting.)