Rooks County Takes Charge and Overcomes Significant Problem
A recent problem that our Justice Team at HMN Architects has been running into recently and for the past several years, is the significant problem that many jails seem to be having when it comes to overcrowded and outdated jail facilities, whom are struggling with housing inmates. Not meeting the minimum requirement is tremendously dangerous for the facility staff as well as the inmates. On November 4, 2014, Rooks County took their first step to replace their jail by passing their sales tax referendum. It was one of the only sales tax votes that passed in the state for this kind of a facility.
Rooks County’s previous jail was located on the top floor of their courthouse, a historical gem built in the 1920’s that showcases a state-of-the-art design. The space for the jail was severely limited. Due to the historical design, major renovations were not acceptable with their current position. Also, security was always a problem when the jail was housed in the courthouse.
On December 13, 2016, Rooks County held their ribbon cutting ceremony for their new and improved jail facility. The new facility now houses the Sheriff’s office, emergency management department, operations as well as a 20-bed jail divided into four day rooms. The dayrooms will allow the Sheriff to separate the inmates into groups that will ultimately minimize conflict and problems. The intake and booking will provide an additional 3-beds for holding inmates while they are being processed. There is also a new area for dispatch, emergency operations, inmate property hold and secured evidence storage. A new cooking kitchen allows for on-site meal preparation. All of these major design elements are housed under a sloped metal roof that protect the heating and cooling units for the entire building.
The new modern jail will feature touch screen security electronics to minimize staff disruptions. The design also maximizes the views into the dayrooms so fewer staff are required to manage the jail at one time and also allowing for minimal contact with the inmates. Every area in the jail is monitored from one central location.
Building a jail or correctional facility is different from building any other type of structure. Rooks County hired HMN Architects because of their knowledge and expertise. Not only does it have to be secure, but there are many things to consider when it comes to the legalities of inmate rights. Without a doubt, HMN designed a secure jail that is not only compliant for inmate rights, but also provides a safe environment for my staff.
Gary Knight, Rooks County Sheriff
Photo taken from Rooks County Sheriff’s Office Facebook Page.