That was the recommendation of the Jail Needs and Assessment Committee to the Davis County Commission Tuesday.
A $24-million general obligation bond is being eyed by county officials to pay for the facility's construction. In addition, about $5 million annually would be needed to maintain and operate the jail addition.
"We are taxpaying citizens, taking this responsibility soberly," said committee chairman Paul Barker of Farmington.
"We are not hastily inclined to recommend tax increases. If the bond is not passed, we feel the county commission would be put at risk. The rule of law would lose its effectiveness. There would be liability concerns," he told county commissioners Tuesday.
"We again reiterate the urgency associated with our public safety and liability concerns as they surfaced throughout deliberations," Barker said in a prepared statement. The committee, a 15-member group made up of a cross section of county residents, met nine times over the past 10 months as a group, in addition to various subcommittee meetings.
"The committee has concluded that under current conditions, the public safety of citizens is being jeopardized, and the safety of jail staff is at risk because of the jail's overcrowding. Furthermore, the county faces significant liability with potential inmate or staff lawsuits as a distinct possibility,"Barker said.
Suggesting it would be better for the county to control jail expansion than leave it to a possible federal mandate, with associated controls, he added:"We further believe that a jail expansion will take place in the foreseeable future and would prefer it not take place on terms dictated by a federal consent decree, but by local input."
"Today's a great day. We're taking the vote to the people,"said committee member Chad Vanderlinden, who is a research analyst for the Utah Taxpayers Association.
The issue will now be placed on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.
"As compared to other counties, it is a very efficient system,"Barker said of Davis County's jail operation. He said the committee's recommendation was delayed by three weeks as the panel reviewed a 190-page consultant's report about Salt Lake County jail proposals. "We felt we would be derelict if we didn't review that.
"Davis County enjoys some efficiencies due to its smaller size (than Salt Lake County), in part due to its proximity to the judicial complex, some real creative things the judiciary has initiated.
"But we've run out of overflow capacity. It's built for 496 and has been as high as 551. It's (largely) one (inmate)in, one out. Judges are not able to incarcerate all who should be. "Security measures are not taking place to the extent they should be. Hard-core felons may be interspersed with first-time offenders," he said.
Basically, a doubling in bed size is recommended, along with necessary auxiliary facilities, such as expanding a kitchen built to serve 600 meals a day that is dishing out three times that many.
The jail addition should meet needs until 2009, Barker said. "The county should be looking at locations for minimum security (besides the main jail). The crime rate is growing significantly faster than the natural population increase. In the near future it should consider a minimum security facility."
Many of those needing incarceration are committing substance abuse crimes and need money to fuel their habit, committee members said.
"Another (minimum security) campus, probably with work release, would cost about $15,000 per inmate vs. $61,000 for maximum security,"County Commission Chairman Dannie McConkie said.
A 120-bed work release facility on the current jail campus was paid for primarily through a $2.6 million federal grant, with the county retaining ownership in five years. Federal prisoners are envisioned as a part of this proposed jail expansion, helping to potentially pay several million dollars toward the overall cost.
The new bond would basically be a continuation of the existing bond that will be paid off in 2006.
Cost of the new bond will be about $15 a year additionally for the owner of a $167,000 "average" home.