Exercise area in the works at county jail
Constituents are uneasy seeing prisoners outside of the county jail.
That subject was discussed Monday by Marion County Commission with Sheriff Lee Becker.
Becker had reported that inmates had helped at Marion County Lake this past summer with cleanup and painting. They also had helped at Peabody with special events.
Commissioner Randy Dallke said some people like to see inmates doing community service work but others do not.
The commission then discussed inmates being outdoors near the county jail on the courthouse lawn one hour per day. Typically they are allowed to sit and smoke cigarettes near a picnic table located on the south side of the courthouse property near a public parking lot.
It was determined that an enclosed facility needed to be planned regardless of the outcome of the November bond election for a new jail.
“People are uncomfortable with prisoners outdoors,” commissioner Dan Holub said.
Becker said prisoners could be in the sally port with a door partially open with a barrier to prevent visibility.
The state requires prisoners to have access to some daylight for at least one hour per day. At the current jail, there is no area inside that would meet that requirement.
If a fence was erected outdoors, Becker said there would be concerns of contraband or other items being placed in the area prior to the prisoners’ use.
If a new jail is built, there will be an exercise area with sufficient daylight to meet the state’s requirements.
Later in the meeting, Tony Rangle, architect with Law Kingdon, Inc. of Wichita, had a teleconference with the commission regarding upcoming public meetings to promote the jail project. Rangle agreed to meet with Becker to come up with a solution at the current jail facility.