Local Government TV

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Shhh! NorCo Viewing Gracedale Campus For New Jail

Last week, I told you about Executive John Brown's secret plan for a new jail. Cost is estimated at $128-132 million. This would mean a tax increase of 60-70%. This heavy financial toll, combined with the widespread unpopularity of jails, is why Brown and County Council Republicans have suddenly become tight-lipped. They'll surprise you about this after the election. Of course, by then it will be too late for you to do anything except pay more taxes.

If you own one of those half million dollar McMansions at Eagles Landing, your property values may soon be taking a nosedive. That's because Northampton County is looking at the Gracedale campus for a new jail.

At the prison advisory board meeting on July 25 2017, prison advisory board chair Dan Christenson called Gracedale a "great location." Here's an excerpt::
Mr. Christenson explained that he believes the valley area near Gracedale would be a great location for a new jail, and he was told a longer than necessary sewer line was installed in the past. [Corrections] Director [Dan] Keen said a site selection has not been discussed from [sic] John Brown, but we have had a group in the jail doing studies to determine exactly what we need. Director Keen said [the current] facility costs us about $115 per day, per inmate. A new facility costs about $67 per day, per inmate. [Prison Advisory Board member Ed] Boscola asked if a new jail would cut out [sic] operating costs in half. Director Keen explained it wouldn't necessarily work out that way because of the need for more officers, based on a staffing analysis. Mr.Christenson asked how much overtime we pay. Director Keen explained the Union Contract dictates we have 1.5 million right off the bat each year in overtime due to the schedule. Mr. Boscola aksed if DLR [a prison architect hired by Executive John Brown] would do a financial analysis, staffing analysis, etc. and Director Keen stated yes. Director Keen said they are looking at it from 3 angles and will provide a report when they are done. Mr. Christenson offered the board's assistance when the time is right.
In September 2016, Keen gave a presentation to Northampton County Council in which he advocated for for a new jail. At that time the jail census was 732 inmates, and 117 of them were women.

In the summer, as temperatures rise, so does the jail population. But at the July 25 prison advisory board, the inmate population had gone down by 61 inmates. The census dropped to 671 inmates, and 122 of them were women.

Rather than deciding where a new jail should be located, the question that really needs to be answered is whether one is needed at all. If the census is going down, then talk of a new jail is premature.

23 comments:

  1. You have this story down. Apparently one of the proposed sites is the slate belt. The hush-hush game is in full effect. You rightly mentioned the cost of the new prison but must remember they want to tear down the old prison. Given the old stone structure of that building, God knows what that will cost as well.

    Hard to imagine conservative republicans voters support this nonsense. You are right though, they will push this through if re-elected. Forget filling vacancies. Also the tax increase they gave us of 10% will be peanuts with this project.

    Don't be shocked to hear that Gracedale is again at play as a quick cash infusion.

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  2. Like Bradford County ,right Bernie?

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  3. Could the most incompetent County Executive in the history of the Home Rule Charter (for either county Northampton or Lehigh) make it more easy for Lamont McClure to win? It's not only conservative Republicans who will be voting against him, no sensible centrist Democrat or bleeding heart wants the tax burden of a new "taj mahal" prison! And with a falling number of inmates (thank God for small miracles!) the only rationale is cost per inmate--in the long run...but as John Maynard Keynes brilliantly noted "in the long run, we are all dead" Congratulations Lamont u may have the easiest win since Brackbill got 39% 20 years ago....

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  4. Will there be a section for repeat drunk drivers and heroin addicts?

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  5. I just love the transparency in NC. Where is the public input on this? Even better yet, Where is our infamous and useless County Council in all this. The John "Jackass" Brown/Allen/Trapp/Keen family has really kept a lid on this one.

    The people of NC should be ashamed of themselves if they reelect this bunch of Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves!

    Possibly playing with 128 to 132 million dollars is no laughing matter, and council members are worried about reelection. All of these ultimate losers should be fired in November.

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  6. Your attempt to scare people by using fancy numbers like 60 -70% increase in taxes is one that I find laughable. Numbers don't always tell the story. Sure the count may be down but due to the structure and current layout of the Jail even at a count of 700 +- the Jail is running above rated capacity. I'm sure you were unaware of that when you wrote your analysis. Also, there are parts of the current Jail that are aging towards being unsafe and may soon be deemed by the State as unusable. So, the County can wait as they've done in the past with the hopes that this won't happen or they can act. Brown and Mr. Keen has started the ball rolling. whats wrong with preparing for the future?? I seem to remember sometime ago that their were those who said why a new Courthouse?? Yet, they completed that.

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    1. Yet Echo Tier, which was built in 1993 and houses 56, has been COMPLETELY EMPTY for over a year! Explain that...spoken from the inside.

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  7. A new Court House was built solely for the Judges. They promised not to attack Reibman's one hundred million "bond issue" if he would build them a new Court House. Who sez Judges aren't political?

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  8. This is 100% true
    Brown and co was told by lee Snover to not talk about this to anybody until after the election

    the only one of the 5 against this idea is Peg Ferraro

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  9. The one thing that will never change is all politicians love to have their names engraved in a bronze plaque that is hung on the wall of the buildings that they approve.

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  10. Well, Madame Snover..Lamont may not be the sharpest tool in the box but just some$$$ and he can ensure every likely voter in November knows Brown's taj mahal edifice to him self and stain upon the nazareth area is on the way...along with the TAX HIKE NEXT YEAR!

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  11. BO, large portions of the jail are going unused currently at the prison so overcrowding is not an issue. E-Tier, CCF 100 and a portion of the L-Tier annex are curently not be used.

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  12. The county has only 9 acers at Gracedale for governmental use. I see rezoning in the picture, for the remaning 100 acers.

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  13. "Your attempt to scare people by using fancy numbers like 60 -70% increase in taxes is one that I find laughable. Numbers don't always tell the story."

    Excuse me, but there is nothing "fancy" about my assessment odf what this will cost. We are talking about $128-132 million, and this is based on old estimates. This does not include the cost of demolishing the current jail. It will mean a 60-70% tax hike, and that figure is conservative. This is something people need to know when they vote. Especially people in the Nazareth area.

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  14. Nazareth has plenty of room for the new style prisons of the day. 10 acres is enough room for the prison and the parking required for the staff. Deal is just about inked.
    I'm not too sure about your tax increase estimates, i think you are a tad Low on your calculations

    Maybe Madam Snover can fill us all in, heck her team raised taxes 10% and it wasn't needed so they will have no problem raising your taxes again, Right Lee?

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  15. The union contract dictates 1.5 million in overtime due to the schedule. Am I understanding this to mean that the guards are guaranteed overtime even if not needed?

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  16. Carl, my guess is that the county must budget for it, which is only prudent.

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  17. The contract dictates the CO's work schedule. The current staffing levels do not cover the required number for weekend staffing resulting in overtime being created. And the CO's are not guaranteed, they are mandated and forced to work an addition 8 hours to fill the gap requiring the county to budget the 1.5 million each year.

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  18. And yet we can't get a raise or a cost of living increase

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  19. "Shhh" is correct. I don't hear anybody talking about this at work. I didn't hear anybody talking about this at the barber today, and I was there for an hour and a half (but did hear about too much traffic on Freemansburg Ave). I don't see any articles about this in the local newspapers. I'm a super-voter who votes in every single election, and I've yet to get one piece of junk mail. The election is a little over a month from now. It will be primary-like turnout: low, and partisan. That plays to the GOP lever-pullers in NorCO, and they know it.

    I agree with you Bernie, so don't take it negative, but nobody is listening outside of agitated county workers or local political junkies (who are often too close to the fire) at this point. In 35 years of voting, who I've wanted to win may not have always, but my gut has always been bellwhether as to who actually wins.

    Related, as Moore in AL proved, and the likes of Dent and Corker increasingly deciding not to deal with it anymore, the GOP is changing and those on "their" train couldn't be happier. The irony is that the RedMap strategy prior to the post-2010 redistricting is in the long haul going to bite the GOP in the dupa as the "RINO" centrists are driven out in districts that are geared for the lever-pullers. Short term I predict great success from Congress to NorCo in the next few years for the new GOP. Only after the damage is done will either (equally as bad) the pendulum swing radically the other direction, or centrist GOP/Dems (assuming any are left not having been eaten by their own by then) will emerge. The next few years are going to be unstable and tumultuous at all levels of gov't. I even see Bannon already blessing Wagner in PA. Battles to win, wars to lose.

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  20. Build it and the judges will fill it. Need tenants to pay it off. Lock them up and get them off the voter rolls and get their families on welfare. Around and around we go.

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  21. the current jail is inefficient, that urban core settingshould be retained and the new jail built next door in phases like Lehigh County did when they had to build a new one due to lawsuits.... the lawsuits from the inmates there will come

    building next door would allow easy prisoner movements back and forth from the jail

    start a tower where all the trees and grass are on Walnut street, go straight up, 10 stories

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  22. Stop being Dumb & Stop scaring local people! First off Gracedale is Bankrupt Bankruot it's No secret so let's stop the nonsense it's dragging the local economy killing it actually!! it is a major financial drain. Secondly the word on the steeet for years is that (allegedly) the employees steal most the opioids & meds which is why most staff can't get hired anywhere else. Thirdly (allegedly) the care for its residents is not sufficient. Place these good Senior people in local facilities that can properly care are for them. News flash We have a major drug problem all across this country and yes in Nazareth too & surrounding area ! A facility such as a minimum security facility with treatment CAN & WILL bring New jobs and funding from the State & Federal Gov. If our current Politicians including Mayor Candidates have any half way decent sales pitch & bargaining of deal making skills they can bring massive funding to Nazareth just by working a good deal! Don't blow it this area needs jobs & funding! So if Any Mayorial candidate goes against this move they are dumb & selfish!! Work a good deal "the art of the deal" and say Yes to the State & Feds go to them if you have to and WORK THAT DEAL this is your job to bring that money back home for jobs for the areas!! The Gov needs communities to stepUp and help fight this epidemic you tell them Bazareth is ready but we must have state & federal food bring to do it!! if the State sends $ and you br No Bazareth the the forefront as s leading boro to work with our current administration to fight this war on drugs & don't kid yourselves it is a War!! It's coming in from Malaysia & it is killing our 20 somethings!! Go to Harrisburg tell them to go to Trump and tell them the Peope & Vomminities of Nazareth & surrounding Boris are ready to ge in this battle and We Have A location but We Need the massive funding & the backing of Real Givernmemt Ifficials to do out!! What do wended we need a Well backed & Funded Police force with tools they will need. We also need state funding or federal funding no gir a Paid Fire Dept & adequate Correction officers, Admin staff & medical staff to treat the addicts & rehab them! We need more roads crews & salters & plows Jobs Jobs Jobs Also the construction of the facility our local contractors should get first priority to bid on the jobs!! Thats our plumbers electricians concrete masons etc Should get first chance to do those jobs! It's about Jobs jobs jobs and Any Half Way decent politician with some skill knows these facilities are needed all across the USA!! Hello Local Politucians your job is Togo get the Money & Brung it home here to Nazareth here is your chance to show off your skill!! The Art of the Deal go work a deal for federal & state money bc the tacitly is needed we have something hung to offer & a location!! You are being offered an opportunity for the area so Mayorsl candidates Assembly Congress local officials Get it done!! And don't blow it bc Smart community officials & any "real political leader" will know this can be a Big Positive for our area!! So go work a deal & grab for the residents of Nazareth Jobs Jobs Jobs Now do your jobs & GROW jobs in this area!!

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