Terry Lawson formally announces his candidacy for Sheriff of Coconino County.
Our community will soon be forced to face the tough issues regarding our future management of the Jail District, which has a troubled history. The bond funded Jail has experienced significant problems including fiscal management, staffing shortages and operational inefficiency since itís opening in July of 2000. In the first two years of operation under the previous administration, the Jail District used more than $1.8 million in repair and replacement reserve funds to subsidize its operation and currently has no money in reserve for emergencies or extensive repairs.
The Jail is now leasing beds to other agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Arizona Department of Corrections, to generate revenue in an effort to balance the books. This strategy has had some success, however, as local inmate population continues to rise, the ability of the Jail to continue this leasing tactic will become very limited. The most likely scenario indicates that local inmate population will go up, operating expenses will escalate, bed rental revenues will fall off and staffing and morale issues will worsen. The idea of more inmates, less staff and limited funds or resources to address these issues makes for an unpleasant and potentially volatile scenario.
There currently exists no long-term strategic plan to address the growth and management needs of the Jail. There is no on-going, internal organizational dialogue to anticipate and manage the issues we know are emerging and which will result in significant Criminal Justice system impacts over the next several years. We need to begin the process of assertive Jail management now and develop a vision for the future growth and expansion of Jail services in the short and long term.top