VOICES: Responses from county administrator, sheriff to Jail Coalition open letter

Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert and Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck speak after a July, 2020 meeting in which county commissioners approved moving forward with a jail expansion study phase. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert and Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck speak after a July, 2020 meeting in which county commissioners approved moving forward with a jail expansion study phase. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

Nearly five years ago, we authorized the establishment of the Justice Committee for the Montgomery County Jail. We empowered this committee, made up of community members, to review all the jail’s processes and procedures to determine if they were followed and if there was a need for an investment to ensure a safe and humane environment.

The Justice Committee Report presented the following as major challenges with the jail:

  • Inadequate capacity
  • Poor facility design
  • Inefficient operations due to small size of booking area
  • Lack of program space for private treatment of inmates and examination rooms
  • Physical condition of facility

To effectively meet the recommendation of the community, the following must be addressed:

  • The current facility is comprised of multiple iterations of overlayered construction (1960/1990) that is both dysfunctional and not suitable for inmates or correction officers.
  • We currently do not have the necessary mental health, opioid, or infirmary step down units required to properly treat inmates that might help expedite their release from jail.

The community was not happy with our jail, and frankly neither were we. The Justice Committee’s final report, submitted to us in 2019, led us to contracting with HDR to design a new facility that would address the serious issues our community raised. The pandemic delayed our design phase because of budget cuts and was further delayed because we asked for another design option. We have not received final drawings yet, therefore, no selection has been made.

We assure you, we will once again engage residents after we have final designs from HDR (likely in December) and have the budget required to finance any of the designs selected.

- Michael Colbert, Montgomery County Administrator

Combined ShapeCaption
Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert

Credit: HUE12, LLC

Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert

Credit: HUE12, LLC

Combined ShapeCaption
Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert

Credit: HUE12, LLC

Credit: HUE12, LLC

ExploreMontgomery County Jail Coalition calls for transparency in jail planning process

On March 30, 2017, the Board of County Commissioners passed Resolution Number 17-0530, which established the Justice Committee for the Montgomery County Jail. At the time, I was the Chief Deputy and I was the representative on that committee until it ended on February 26, 2019, when they presented the Commission with our final report. Coincidently enough, I had proudly just began serving the citizens of Montgomery County as their new Sheriff.

I made the commitment to that Committee, the community, and the Board of County Commissioners that I would look at every one of the 96 Committee recommendations. All the recommendations that were within my control, were incorporated and continue to be in policy and procedure today.

Based on recommendations from the Justice Committee, in 2019, the County Commissioners began a Jail Needs Assessment with the firm HDR because one of the Committee’s largest concerns was the Jail facility itself. We are currently waiting on the Jail Needs Assessment Report from HDR so that County Officials, the Sheriff’s Office, and other community leaders and stakeholders can decide the best next steps for the Montgomery County Jail and the citizens of Montgomery County.

- Rob Streck, Montgomery County Sheriff

Combined ShapeCaption
Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck

Credit: Contributed

Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed