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Deschutes Jail expansion, remodeling underway

By Brittany Weiner
Published On: Dec 11 2013 11:16:22 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Brittany Weiner explains how the jail plans to expand and remodel.

BEND, Ore. -

Sounds of drills and hammers fill the air outside the Deschutes County Jail.

Construction has begun on the jail's $11 million expansion and remodeling project, which will add 144 beds to it's current 228, which are almost always full.

"We have some jail beds rented in Jefferson County, so that's helping us alleviate our population issue," sheriff's Capt. Shane Nelson said Wednesday,

It's an issue that will ease once the work is done.

The extra space will also make room for more inmate programs, like drug and alcohol treatment and parenting classes.

"We don't just want to house inmates in the facility," Nelson said. "We want to give them options, so that they can improve their lives, in the hopes that they won't come back to the facility."

On top of the expansion, the jail will remodel a portion of its current facility starting in January.

It will become a monitored area for those dealing with a medical condition or mental health issues.

"About 30 percent of our population does have some sort of a mental health challenge," said sheriff's Lt. Michael Gill.

Currently, the jail only has one suicide watch cell for men, and none for women. So when someone cannot be with the rest of the inmates, they take up room in holding cells, which impacts the booking staff.

With more doors opening comes needed flexibility.

"Ultimately, the new facility is going to give us options, and it's going to take us in to the future," Gill said.

A future that's getting closer and closer, with the pounding of every nail.

Most of the jail expansion and remodel cost is being covered by a county bond that officials say won't add any new taxes.

The added space should be done by mid-August and housing inmates by next October. The remodeling project should be finished by April, officials said.

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