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Sunday, October 2, 2022


Why not expand the Camp Verde Jail?

Most of Yavapai County’s population is in the Prescott area. About 67% (2/3) of Yavapai County resides in western Yavapai County - Prescott, Prescott Valley, Dewey-Humboldt, Chino Valley, or the surrounding unincorporated area. Consequently, about 67% of the crime and arrests occur in western Yavapai County. Expanding the Camp Verde jail will not solve the safety and cost issues associated with having the County’s only jail so far from its major population center. Yavapai County’s new Criminal Justice Center in the Prescott area will:

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.

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.

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.

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.

Will the Justice Center include services to get inmates mental health help?

Yes! In 2017 the Sheriff strengthened the dedicated Behavioral Health Unit inside the Camp Verde jail. The Behavioral Health Unit attempts to screen every person booked into the jail for behavioral health, substance abuse, veteran’s status, employment, and their access to housing and transportation. Proper medical and behavioral health treatment is provided while the person is incarcerated, and, in conjunction with the Reach Out program, coordinated assistance with behavioral health providers is facilitated upon the release of arrestees. This program will continue to operate in the Criminal Justice Center.

Why is the County building a jail in the middle of Prescott?

Actually, the County is building the Criminal Justice Center as part of a plan to move booking and holding activities out of the middle of Prescott. The current County booking and holding facility is on Gurley Street in downtown Prescott, a one-minute walk from Courthouse Plaza. While within the Prescott city limits, the Criminal Justice Center is in an area used for industry and heavy commercial uses. The Criminal Justice Center site is next door to an old landfill and a wastewater treatment plant, across the street from a garbage transfer station and an animal shelter, and within ¼ mile of several heavy-use commercial enterprises. The nearest residence is over ½ mile away. And, while isolated within the industrial/commercial area, the Criminal Justice Center is centrally located and short distance from Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Chino Valley, the major population centers in this area. This central location is important because it reduces each city’s transportation costs and ensures that police officers from Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley can quickly return to their community after transporting an arrested individual to the Criminal Justice Center.

Why not build the Criminal Justice Center in away from Prescott where no one lives?

The purpose of the Criminal Justice Center is to serve western Yavapai County, particularly the heavy population centers of Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Chino Valley. Building the Criminal Justice Center far away from Prescott, Prescott Valley or Chino Valley will not solve the serious safety issues or the costly transportation problem the County faces right now. The Criminal Justice Center must be centrally located within western Yavapai County to solve those safety and transportation issues.

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