The inmate population at the Lake County jail in Waukegan is expected to grow during the next 18 years, but not significantly enough to require building expansion, a new study indicates.
To meet the projected space needs, consultant Tom Roth on Tuesday recommended turning some single-bunk cells into double cells.
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Roth also said jail personnel should put prisoners who are relatively low security risks into less secure, dormitory-style areas. That would free up space in high-security wings for more challenging inmates.
Additionally, officials should open a now-unused dorm area when the jail population grows enough to warrant the extra space, Roth told the Lake County Board's law and judicial committee. Extra staffing would be needed for the area, too.
The jail's kitchen, medical area and other support spaces should be improved to meet the demands of a larger population as well, Roth said.
He didn't give cost estimates for the recommendations. Assistant County Administrator Amy McEwan called them "fairly modest modifications."
"They're not huge dollars," McEwan said.
Built in 1987, the jail is run by the Lake County Sheriff's Office. It has room for 1,049 inmates: 761 in traditional secure cell areas and 288 in dormitory space for part-time prisoners in a work-release program.
The average daily inmate population this year is 744, with 645 inmates in secure cell pods and 99 in work release, Roth reported.
His firm, MGT America, looked at the overall county population, the crime rate and other factors for the study.
It predicted the jail's population will rise slightly between now and 2030, with the average daily count for secure detention expected to exceed 750 by that year.
An estimate for the work-release population in 2030 was not provided.
The changes Roth recommended would increase capacity in the secure cells to 785 inmates by 2030, Roth said. He did not provide a new capacity estimate for the work-release space.
Sheriff Mark Curran was in the audience for the presentation and seemed supportive of Roth's recommendations.
"There are a lot of things that are very solid (in the study)," Curran said.
The committee took no action on the recommendations Tuesday.