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The Flagler County Board of County Commissioners once again discussed jail alternatives Monday, Aug. 13, all but ruling out the relocatable Sprung Correction Units proposed by County Commission candidate Herb Whitaker, at a recent meeting.
“They’re for minimal-security inmates,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said, which Flagler currently deals with through the use of ankle bracelets and work release check-ins. “We have less than 10 individuals in our current facility that would even qualify for these Sprung structures.”
But that isn’t Coffey’s, or the board’s, only issue with the aluminum jail alternative. Shorter longevity, larger staffing requirements, higher utility costs, less hurricane protection and cuttable building materials were some other concerns raised.
“Overall, I say we need to rely on professional architects and engineers … to design any additions,” he wrote in a recent memo to the board, then referencing the concrete portables currently at the facility, which were also sold as a cheaper option but, as Commissioner Milissa Holland said, “cost us well over $1 million and didn’t even address the issues.”
“The Sprung structure may be a great fit for many other communities, but (not) for our community,” she added. “There’s a deep history here that’s not being addressed. … This body has taken a careful, comprehensive look, and I don’t want us to miss that point … We’re looking at the lowest possible operational costs … balanced against those construction costs.”
Commissioner Nate McLaughlin echoed her points.
“(Deciding to expand the jail) was not a knee-jerk reaction,” he said. “This is a result of the homework.”
Coffey added that staff is currently preparing presentations and public jail tours to help educate the public on the county’s challenges and options for jail expansion.
The county has also issued a request for proposal from a consultant to present the board with recommendations for jail expansion at a future meeting.
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