New N.D. Jail Design Presented
(05/14/2014)

BISMARCK, N.D. — UBL Design Group, based in Bismarck, in cooperation with New York-based Venture Architects presented design plans for the new combined Burleigh/Morton County jail to commissioners from Burleigh County, Morton County, Bismarck and Mandan in April. The plan showed that the design will cost nearly $70 million for a 476-bed facility.

Tom Poweleit, vice president of Venture Architects, told The Bismarck Tribune that the five core buildings in the jail design separates the inmate population into minimum-security, medium-security, maximum-security and special needs. Plus, the grounds of the jail site has the capacity to expand to 1,000 beds if needed, he added.

The design includes a booking area, which will allow officers to process an inmate within 15 minutes and then resume work quickly. It also features a port area for 11 squad cars, a pre-booking area for officers to finish paperwork and 30 holding cells to keep inmates until they are classified for the right jail population. If bailed out, suspects will exit through the front door. If kept longer, non-trial court hearings could be done via interactive video from the booking section, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

Voters from the two counties will decide on June 10 if they want to pay for the jail — which would be paid for in less than 10 years, according to the design consultants — using a half-cent sales tax. The voters must also pass a home rule charter in each county before the counties can issue a temporary sales tax. Both counties would end the jails sales tax when all construction costs are paid.

The two counties have tentatively decided the cost would be split 87 percent from Burleigh County and 13 percent from the Morton County through their jail sales taxes. Most commissioners have favored using the sales tax to pay for the jail because the cost would be spread out through shoppers, not raising property taxes, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

The new jail is being proposed because of overcrowding at the current Burleigh County and Morton County facilities. Burleigh County’s jail facility is designed to hold 138 and averaged 169 daily in 2013, while Morton County is built for 38 and has 50 daily. Burleigh County Sheriff Pat Heinert estimated by the 2017 jail opening, there could be enough demand to fill up to 310 jail beds if criminal activity continues at existing levels.

The plans call for an 18-month project to be completed in 2017.

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