Yes! In 2015 the County commissioned a study of its jail system. Chinn Planning, a nationally recognized jail system consultant firm, conducted the study and issued a report in 2016. The Chinn Report, available HERE, recommends construction of the Criminal Justice Center in the Prescott area. The Board, after considering the Chinn report, decided to move forward with the Criminal Justice Center for the following reasons:
To keep Prescott area cities and towns safe. The jail is in Camp Verde. It is up to the arresting agency to transport an arrestee to Camp Verde when an arrest is made in western Yavapai County. Western Yavapai County includes Prescott, Prescott Valley, Dewey-Humboldt, Chino Valley and the unincorporated areas surrounding these municipalities. The police departments for Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Chino Valley, and the Sheriff’s deputies protecting unincorporated regions in western Yavapai County lose 20% to 50% of their on-duty law enforcement protection for up to 4 hours while the arresting officer transports the arrestee to Camp Verde.
To keep downtown Prescott safe. Criminal court proceedings occur every business day in downtown Prescott, and every business day dozens of inmates take the long ride from Camp Verde to downtown Prescott. Once in Prescott the inmates are marched, shackled and chained together, openly through the public park at the center of Prescott (Courthouse Plaza, the “crown jewel” of Yavapai County) to go to court. Chinn Planning expressed serious concern at this practice, noting how obviously unsafe it is to have large numbers of inmates outside the confines of a secure structure. Prescott’s downtown courthouse originally housed the jail as well the court because inmates could be taken easily, quickly, and safely from jail to court without leaving the building. The new Yavapai County Criminal Justice Center is designed to reestablish the commonsense design of jails and courts in the same building, freeing Prescott’s Courthouse Plaza from the clatter of shackles and chains.
To save money now. Yavapai County spends $2 million each year in fuel, equipment, and extra manpower transporting thousands of inmates to-and-from Camp Verde. The Yavapai County Criminal Justice Center in Prescott will save taxpayers this wasted money.
To save money in the long term. The Camp Verde jail is overcrowded. Yavapai County has faced jail overcrowding issues before. In 1997, a US Department of Justice investigation of Yavapai County found that the Gurley St. jail was severely overcrowded, resulting in several constitutional violations of inmate rights. The federal government threatened to take over Yavapai County jails, build new ones, and force Yavapai County to pay the bill. Overcrowding in the Camp Verde jail, if not addressed now, could easily lead to another Department of Justice investigation. Addressing our overcrowded Camp Verde jail now saves us money in the long run.