N.H. County Drops Jail Plan for Community Center

CLAREMONT, N.H. — Sullivan County officials broke ground on a $5.6 million community corrections facility after the county ditched plans to build a new $40 million jail.

Local firm North Branch Construction Inc. is serving as construction manager on the two-phase renovation and expansion project, which includes the 72-bed Sullivan County Community Corrections Center adjacent to the existing 44-bed county jail facility.

The approximately 20,000-square-foot corrections center, designed by Sheerr McCrystal Palson of New London, N.H., will incorporate 32 treatment beds, 16 work release beds and 24 beds for female offenders.

The new facility, which will offer work-release opportunities and focus on treatment and programming for inmates close to release, is designed to better help inmates transition back into the community.

The project, which is the first of its kind in the state, represents a new direction in the handling of inmates for the county as it concentrates efforts and resources on re-entry instead of incarceration, officials say.

County officials first discussed plans to improve facilities and programming in 2005, following a study that revealed more than 80 percent of inmates booked into the county jail required some form of treatment programming. The county abandoned a proposed plan to construct a new jail facility, which was projected to cost between $38 and $45 million.

The approximately $1.3 million phase I of the project will focus on improving facilities and major building systems at the existing jail, which holds up to 100 inmates on any given day. The renovation work, which is more than 80 percent complete, includes the upgrade of HVAC, fire suppression and security systems, the renovation of exterior recreation areas and reconstruction of the roof.

Phase I, which began in June, will be completed by the end of the year, officials say. The new community corrections center is scheduled for completion in mid 2010, officials say.cn-