5 firms want to study embattled Montgomery County Jail

Five firms submitted proposals to study operations of the Montgomery County Jail, the focus of a number of lawsuits by former inmates claiming mistreatment already costing the county more than $1 million.

The study is being commissioned by the independent Justice Advisory Committee, tasked with making jail policy, procedural and facility recommendations to the Board of Montgomery County Commissioners.

“We hope that this outside, objective jail consultant will be able to guide us in understanding in more depth than we are able to do on our own all the workings of the jail, all the processes and systems within the jail, so that we can have a clear idea of the recommendations we want to make,” said Rabbi Bernard Barsky, co-chair of justice committee.

RELATED: County spending on jail lawsuits tops $1M

The companies that submitted proposals by the deadline last week are:

- Brandstetter Carroll Inc., Cincinnati

- CGL Companies, Lexington, Ky.

- Federal Engineering, Fairfax, Va.

- KPMG, Denver, Colo.

- Pulitzer/Bogard & Associates, Lido Beach, N.Y.

Joe Spitler, Montgomery County’s criminal justice director, said about a dozen firms attended a mandatory pre-proposal meeting in October. It’s yet unclear how much the county may spend on the report.

Four lawsuits have been settled since August, pushing settlements and legal fees above $1 million. Six others are pending against the jail, including one involving Robert Richardson, who died May 19, 2012. Richardson’s lawsuit alleges several jail employees handcuffed and subdued him on his stomach outside a cell door while he was having a medical emergency.

RELATED: County jail deaths add sense of urgency to advisory group’s review

“We have to end up with significantly fewer lawsuits because taxpayers are paying a lot of money – too much money – to resolve these cases,” Montgomery County Commission President Dan Foley said last month.

Barsky said the committee has yet to review the five proposals. The 10-member justice committee was formed in March to quell calls for a federal civil rights investigation as the number of civil lawsuits against the jail climbed.

SPECIAL REPORT: Justice in the Jailhouse: Lawsuits, accusations plague county jails in the region

Committee members agreed in August to pursue the services of a professional consulting firm to help identify potential problems at the jail and offer possible remedies in a report to the committee before the group makes final recommendations to county commissioners.

The Justice Committee will select the winning proposal, which then must be reviewed by the county administrator and other county offices to find a funding source before any final contract is voted on by the county commission, likely sometime in January, Spitler said.

Montgomery County Jail book-ins number about 26,000 annually. The jail has a capacity of 914 beds, of which approximately 843 are occupied on any given day at a cost of $61.75 per inmate. The female population of the jail averages from 18 to 22 percent of the total population and has been as high as 25 percent, according to sheriff’s department figures.

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RELATED: Proposals due for study of Montgomery County Jail

Montgomery County Jail lawsuit settlements

Four lawsuits of at least 10 cases filed against Montgomery County Jail staff have been settled out of court.

Amber Swink: $375,000, August 2017

Marsha Pate-Strickland: $75,000, Octber 2017

Darryl Wallace: $58,000, November 2017

Emily Evans: $380,000, November 2017

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