Curry County commissioners heard the first of several options being considered to combat overcrowding problems at the troubled jail — a presentation from a company Tuesday that manufactures fabric-covered pods to house inmates.
A representative from manufacturer Sprung of West Jordan, Utah, explained the company offers a modular-pod system built with an airplane-grade aluminum frame covered in Tevlar, a tough synthetic skin that can withstand extreme weather, including high winds.
The inside of the pods look like and feel like any other building. Air conditioning, electricity, security systems, and any other modern convenience can be installed during the building process.
The modular pods will make it easy to expand or rearrange the detention center if future detention populations call for it, said Sprung spokesman Craig Hutchinson.
Hutchinson’s pitch didn’t include specifics on costs or where the pods would be built and was arranged by Sheriff Matt Murray, who re mains in charge of security at the jail. Murray has referred to the concept as a “tent city” in previous commission sessions.
The pods are one of several options under consideration for fixing the jail. Commissioner Tim Ashley has also promised to deliver information, including costs, on the possibility of privatizing the jail.
Ashley has also said he would like to explore building a new facility outside Clovis as a regional jail in cooperation with other counties, who would share the costs.
Daniel Askenazi, vice president of Municipal Capital Markets, said his organization has been working with Sprung and the sheriff in exploring a number of financing options that would not require a tax increase. Askenazi said he believes costs of the facility could be paid with the money that Curry County will be saving by using the Sprung pods.
The county spends about $700,000 a year to house inmates in out-of-county facilities because of overcrowding and inability to segregate violent prisoners.
Askenazi said frequent trips — up to three times a day — to Parmer and Bailey County detention centers, as well as the expensive prices for housing inmates in those counties will be cut out the picture. The pods’ energy efficiency will also lower expenses over the years, he said.
Askenazi said housing inmates in pods will also free up space to create much needed maximum-security cells in the current facility. Curry County officials will also have the ability to find local contractors in nearly all the phases of building, putting money back into the local economy, he said.
Sprung and Municipal Capital Markets will be continuing their assessment and present cost estimates in the near future.