Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stop Jail Rapes!

From the Houston Chronicle:

Jails must take measures to stop prisoner sex abuse
June 24, 2009, 8:39PM

“I’m afraid to go to sleep, to shower or just about anything else. I am afraid that when I am doing these things, I might die at any time. Please, sir, help me.”

For years, we have been shocked by stories of the abuse — much of it sexual — of security detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

But prisoners are not just abused overseas. Rape and sexualviolence are all too frequent here in our own backyard.

If America is to reclaim its moral authority as a defender of human rights and dignity, it must start at home. The plea quoted above came from Rodney Hulin, who was just 16 when he entered a Texas prison to serve an eight-year sentence for setting fire to a neighborhood dumpster. He was five feet two inches tall and weighed 125 pounds.

Rodney was raped almost immediately by his fellow inmates. After receiving medical treatment for tears in his rectum, he was returned to the same unit where he had been raped and where he continued to be raped. Prison officials refused his requests for protective custody. According to his parents, he was told that he needed to “grow up.”

In response to Rodney’s story and many like his of prison rape by other inmates or by staff, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003. PREA established, among other initiatives, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. For the past four years I have had the privilege to serve as one of the commissioners.

We were charged with undertaking a comprehensive legal and factual study of the impact of prison sexual abuse on individuals, governments, communities and social institutions. Our mandate was to develop zero-tolerance national standards to prevent sexual abuse in prisons, jails, lockups, juvenile, immigration and community correction facilities. As the Supreme Court eloquently stated fifteen years ago in Farmer v. Brennan, sexual abuse is “not part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses against society.”

Fixing the problem starts with determining why prison rape occurs. The answer does not lie solely with the perpetrators. Rape is committed by individuals, but it becomes systematic and widespread when officials deny its significance as a psychologically and physically devastating abuse that undercuts the very purpose of imprisonment.

The commission learned from corrections officials, survivors of rape, advocates and academics that prisons become rife with rape only when officials fail to take rape seriously and do not institute sensible measures to prevent and punish it.

The commission’s work also confirmed that some prisoners are more at risk of sexual abuse than others. For example, among men, the young, small, physically or mentally ill, or those who appear to be homosexual or transgendered are more at risk of inmate on inmate abuse than others.

Officials know this — but all too often in the past they have failed to use their knowledge to ensure vulnerable prisoners receive special protection.

We must educate both inmates and staff about the high costs of sexual abuse and train them on how to recognize and prevent sex crimes in correctional facilities. Inmates should know that they do not have to bargain sexual favors for privileges from staff. They should know that if they report threats of sexual abuse by staff or other inmates that their reports will be taken seriously and investigated, and they will be protected from retaliation by the perpetrators.

Most important, both staff and prisoners must know that rape and abuse are never appropriate or permissible.

And they must know that there are consequences. Staff who rape inmates should be fired and criminally prosecuted. Inmates who rape other inmates should also be punished, including through criminal prosecution.

All too often, perpetrators are allowed to simply walk away, as in the recent case of a principal at a Texas correctional school who subjected his charges to long-term and repeated abuse. He resigned quietly and became principal at a charter school in another part of the state.

Or the penalties amount to no more than a slap on the wrist: the punishment of the prison sergeant who raped a Colorado inmate for five months in 2006 and brutally sodomized her was only sixty days in a county jail and five years of probation.

The national standards that the commission has developed will lead to the prevention, detection and punishment of prisoner sexual abuse. I look forward to the attorney general promulgating final rules based on the standards within the next year.

Unfortunately, it will be too late for Rodney Hulin. After 75 days in prison, he hanged himself.

When Relatives Return: Interviews with Family Members of Returning Prisoners in Houston, Texas

From the Urban Institute:

"This research brief examines the challenges of incarceration and reentry from the perspective of family members on the outside" (p. 1). Topics discussed include: defining family; who the families of returning prisoners are; how relationships are maintained during incarceration; barriers families face in maintaining contact with their incarcerated relatives; how family members are affected by the return of their relatives; what types of support do family members provide and for how long; some family members are especially likely to provide support; resources and support family members of returning prisoners need; minor children; and discussion.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smith County Jail Proposal

Smith County Commissioner's Court held a special hearing today to present a new jail proposal. Scaled down even further from before. Here's the story from KLTV:
Outlook on new jail proposal positive

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Smith County commissioners met Wednesday to hear a proposal to expand the current jail facility.

With all of the proposals that have come and gone many are wondering if this new plan stands a chance. The outlook is positive. The biggest reason for that is the cost. Unlike past proposals, ranging anywhere from $75,000,000 to $125,000,000, the county estimates this one to cost just over $20,000,000. Proposed improvements include building two additional floors, expanding the jail to accommodate an extra 300 beds. County Judge Joel Brown [should say 'Baker'] said it would be a step in the right direction.

"Based on the history of this project, if there's anything the public can buy into, it would be this one - considering the cost, considering the effect on the tax rate [and] the fact that we might be able to do it with no increase to the tax rate," said Baker. "Those are exciting things to me and that may be a plus."

Baker also said the proposed additions would save the county money in the long run.

Smith County taxpayers currently pay two cents on the dollar to send inmates out of the county. Judge Baker said the goal would be to take those two cents and apply it toward the cost of the construction. In theory, Smith County taxpayers wouldn't pay any more out of pocket.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bills Signed by Governor Perry - Updated 10:42 p.m.

On the Governor's website, it displays the bills that he has signed. SB 1, the general appropriations bill, was signed, but Governor Perry utilized his veto power on some provisions.

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today signed Senate Bill 1 into law, providing a balanced budget that spends $1.6 billion less in general revenue than the previous biennium. The budget funds key priorities from higher education and job creation to border security. The governor also used his line-item veto power to reduce the two-year budget by $97.2 million in general revenue and $288.9 million from all funding sources.

He did approve to fund UTMB in Galveston:

GALVESTON – Gov. Rick Perry today signed House Bill (HB) 4586, the supplemental appropriations bill that includes $150 million in funding to help the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston recover from Hurricane Ike. The governor also signed HB 4409, which reforms the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA).

HB 3226
Relating to the payment of temporary housing costs for certain individuals who are released or are eligible for release on parole or to mandatory supervision.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

HB 3654
Relating to certain duties of and reports submitted to the Commission on Jail Standards regarding county jail inmates who are pregnant.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

HB 4276
Relating to a transportation plan for persons furloughed or discharged from certain mental health facilities.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

HB 4451
Relating to continuity of care services or mental health commitment proceedings for youth with mental illness or mental retardation who are transferred, discharged, or paroled from the Texas Youth Commission.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

HB 888
Relating to the detention and examination of certain persons accepted for a preliminary mental health examination.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

HB 890
Relating to the terminology used to describe certain judicial officers.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

SB 1325
Relating to the creation of a mental health intervention program for military veterans.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

SB 2344
Relating to examination requirements in certain guardianship matters concerning persons with mental retardation.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor
HB 1233

Relating to the court-ordered administration of psychoactive medication to certain criminal defendants.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

HB 1711
Relating to requiring the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to establish a comprehensive reentry and reintegration plan for offenders released or discharged from a correctional facility.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

SB 1
General Appropriations Bill.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor/line item veto

HB 2093
Relating to persons certified as peace officers.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

HB 2196
Relating to the establishment of a workgroup to study and make recommendations on the integration of health and behavioral health services.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

SB 1009
Relating to the continuation and functions of the Commission on Jail Standards.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

SB 1557
Relating to the early identification of criminal defendants who are or may be persons with mental illness or mental retardation.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

List provided in email by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition:

SB 1847
Relating to the provision of services to a wrongfully imprisoned person who is discharged from a correctional facility.
6/19/2009 E Signed by the Governor

CSHB 4451 [McReynolds, Miller, S., Marquez]: Relating to continuity of care services for youth with mental illness or mental retardation who are discharged or paroled from the Texas Youth Commission. - Signed by the Governor

HB 93 [Hodge, Guillen]: Relating to the restoration of good conduct time forfeited during a term of imprisonment. - Signed by the Governor

CSHB 666 [Gutierrez, Moody, Hodge, Leibowitz]: Relating to certain court costs used to fund drug court programs. - Signed by the Governor

CSSB 112 [Ellis]: Relating to deferred prosecution programs for certain military service members and veterans. - Amended to SB 1940 - Signed by the Governor

SB 633 [Seliger]: Relating to the number of counties or municipalities necessary to establish a regional drug court program. - Signed by the Governor

CSSB 1206 [Hinojosa]: Relating to the release from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice of certain inmates who complete a rehabilitation program. - Vetoed.

SB 1557 [Duncan]: Relating to the early identification of criminal defendants who are or may be persons with mental illness or mental retardation. - Signed by the Governor

HB 3649 [Marquez, Hodge, Madden]: Relating to a policy regarding the receipt of books by mail by an inmate in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. - Signed by the Governor

HB 3653 [Marquez, Olivo, King, S., Madden, Ortiz, Jr.]: Relating to the use of restraints to control the movement of pregnant women confined in certain correctional facilities in this state. - Signed by the Governor

HB 3654 [Marquez, Olivo, King, S., Ortiz, Jr.]: Relating to certain duties of and reports submitted to the Commission on Jail Standards regarding county jail inmates who are pregnant. - Signed by the Governor

CSSB 1120 [West]: Relating to reports on racial profiling in connection with motor vehicle stops; providing a penalty. - Amended to HB 3389 - Signed by the Governor

HB 963 [Guillen]: Relating to a criminal history evaluation letter determining occupational license eligibility. - SB 809 amended to bill -Signed by the Governor; effective immediately

CSHB 1711 [Turner, S., Guillen, Martinez, A., Veasey, Marquez]: Relating to requiring the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to establish a comprehensive reentry and reintegration plan for offenders released or discharged from a correctional facility. - Signed by the Governor

CSHB 2161 [Turner, S., Marquez]: Relating to the issuance of a personal identification certificate to present or former inmates of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. - Signed by the Governor

HB 2808 [Thompson]: Relating to the power of a licensing authority to revoke, suspend, or deny a license on the basis of certain criminal proceedings. - Signed by the Governor

CSHB 3226 [Madden, Edwards, McReynolds, Christian]: Relating to the payment of temporary housing costs for certain inmates who are eligible for parole. - Signed by the Governor

HB 3481 [Veasey, Hodge]: Relating to the right to an expunction of records and files relating to a person's arrest. - Vetoed.

SB 223 [West]: Relating to allowing a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision to be eligible for a pardon. - Vetoed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Psychopathy: Etiology, Diagnosis and Treatment

A "brief review of research on psychopathy, focusing on its core features, assessment approaches and treatment prospects" is presented (p. 2). Sections of this document are: psychopathy -- definition and core features; assessment and classification; treatment; and summary. Read the study here.


For centuries the death penalty, often accompanied by barbarous refinements, has been trying to hold crime in check; yet crime persists. Why? Because the instincts that are warring in man are not, as the law claims, constant forces in a state of equilibrium. Read the study here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Arming the Courts with Research: 10 Evidence-Based Sentencing Initiatives to Control Crime and Reduce Costs

From the Pew Center:
Over one million felony offenders are sentenced in state courts annually, accounting for 94 percent of all felony convictions in the United States. Sixty to 80 percent of state felony defendants are placed on probation, fined or jailed in their local communities. Although the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, there are nearly three times more offenders on probation than in state prisons. Recidivism rates among these felony defendants are at unprecedented levels. Almost 60 percent have been previously convicted and more than 40 percent of those on probation fail to complete probation successfully. The high recidivism rate among felons on probation pushes up state crime rates and is one of the principal contributors to our extraordinarily high incarceration rates. High recidivism rates also contribute to the rapidly escalating cost of state corrections, the second fastest growing expenditure item in state budgets over the past 20 years. For many years, conventional wisdom has been that “nothing works” to change offender behavior—that once an offender has turned to crime little can be done to help turn his or her life around. Today, however, there is a voluminous body of solid research showing that certain “evidence-based” sentencing and corrections practices do work and can reduce crime rates as effectively as prisons at much lower cost. A comprehensive study by the Washington legislature, for example, showed that greater use of these evidence-based practices would reduce Washington’s crime rate by 8 percent while saving taxpayers over $2 billion in additional prison construction. As the United States faces the prospect of its deepest and longest recession since the Great Depression, we cannot afford to ignore the opportunity to reduce offender recidivism and resulting high crime rates through use of these cost-effective evidence-based practices.

Attitudes of US Voters toward Nonserious Offenders and Alternatives to Incarceration

• A majority of US adults believe that some crimes,
for which offenders are currently incarcerated, do
not demand time behind bars.
• Eight in ten (77%) adults believe the most
appropriate sentence for nonviolent, nonserious
offenders* is supervised probation, restitution,
community service, and/or rehabilitative services; if
an offender fails in these alternatives, then prison or
jail may be appropriate.
Read the study here.

Bills Waiting to Be Signed By Governor Perry That Impact MHMR Centers

The general sense among Community MHMR Centers is that the 81st Legislative Session provided substantial and significantly new resources for improved community-based services across Texas. Some examples include: increases in medicaid waiver services for developmental disabilities; enhanced crisis services; stimulus and infrastructure funds; and a new benefit package in medicaid for substance use treatment. For a final listing of Senate and House bills relating to behavioral health or developmental disabilities that are awaiting the Governor's signature, click here .

David Evans
Executive Director
Austin Travis County Mental Health Mental Retardation Center

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Man with an IQ of 47 Sentenced to 100 Years

He was found competent?

100-year term for mentally disabled man questioned

PARIS, TX (AP) - Attorneys and advocates are questioning why an 18-year-old East Texan with profound mental disabilities was sentenced to 100 years in prison in a child sex abuse case.

The Dallas Morning News reports a neighbor in Paris found Aaron Hart fondling her 6-year-old stepson in September. He was convicted on five counts from the incident.

Hart had no criminal record, has an IQ of 47 and was diagnosed as mentally disabled as a child. He never learned to read or write and speaks unsteadily.

Texas Tech law professor Daniel Benson called Hart's punishment absurd. Repeat child molesters and rapists have routinely received lighter sentences.

Advocates say counseling, probation or placement in a group home would have been more appropriate.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Conditional Release of Insanity Acquittees: Three Decades of Decision-Making

The problem with the practical application of decision-making regarding release of mentally ill defenders lies in the inherently ambiguous definitions of mental illness and dangerousness, both of which are necessary for the continued commitment of insanity acquittees. In this study, we examined how clinicians make release decisions in a forensic facility, with particular attention paid to how such decision-making may have changed over time. Records were reviewed to determine documented criteria indicating readiness for release. The results indicated that
compliance and treatment response were the primary reasons that the patients were judged ready for release. In addition, increasing attention to the use of substances as a risk factor was evident in the records, with substantially more documentation found in the most recent decade. Our data suggest that clinicians view three concerns to be of primary import when making release decisions: responsiveness to and compliance with the treatment, substance use, and risk of violence.

Read full excerpt from the Journal of American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online

Also, review: Forensic Experts Probe Mind of Woman Who Killed Kids

The Advocacy Handbook: A Guide for Implementing Recommendations of the Criminal Justice / Mental Health Consensus Project

Download Handbook pdf.

The Advocacy Handbook reflects a shared effort among NAMI (the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill), the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and the Criminal Justice / Mental Health Consensus Project.


From the Houston Chronicle:

Poor access to health care and life-threatening conditions at the Harris County Jail violate inmates’ constitutional rights, federal investigators said Friday in a report on their ongoing probe of the downtown lockup that houses more than 11,000 people.

The Department of Justice initiated its investigation last year after the jail, which has failed four of its last six state inspections, came under scrutiny for inmates’ deaths, overcrowding and inadequate access to medical treatment. Investigators last summer toured the facilities and this week notified County Judge Ed Emmett of its findings.

“The (DOJ) found that the jail fails to provide detainees with adequate: (1) medical care; (2) mental health care; (3) protection from serious physical harm and (4) protection from life safety hazards,” Justice Department spokesman Alejandro Miyar wrote in an e-mail to the Chronicle. Miyar would not detail the report’s recommendations and added that the investigation is open and ongoing. He said the Justice Department expects to work with Harris County to remedy any continuing problems.

If things are not corrected in a timely manner, the Justice Department could sue the county, but Miyar would not comment on that possibility, saying only that Harris County has been cooperative.

A spokesman for Sheriff Adrian Garcia, who oversees the jail, said many of the issues cited in the report already have been fixed.

“The guts of the report predate this administration,” sheriff’s spokesman Keir Murray said. “The language is troubling, but it is based on a review of conditions that happened almost a year ago. None of the policy changes that have happened since are reflected in the report.”

Both Justice and the Sheriff’s Office declined to release the report Friday, but Murray did elaborate on some of the findings. Investigators, he said, focused on problems with inmates’ inconsistent access to medical and mental health care, particularly for those with chronic problems. They also cited past incidents where jailers used force against inmates.

Last year, the sheriff’s office fired two detention officers for their actions after a confrontation with Clarence Freeman, an inmate who died several days after one of the officers forcibly restrained him.

Freeman told investigators the jailer had choked him until he nearly was unconscious. It was unclear Friday if Freeman’s death was one of the incidents federal investigators examined.

The report also focused on maintenance and sanitation issues, including problems with laundry facilities and grooming equipment. Grooming and shaving equipment were brought into compliance last year, Murray said.

Garcia has been attempting to take control of jail maintenance, which is handled by another county department, since the jail failed its annual state inspection in April.

Last month, Garcia traveled to Austin to negotiate with the state Commission on Jail Standards to keep the lockup operating despite its failed inspection. Commissioners revoked 230 so-called “variance beds” that allow the jail to increase its capacity, but let Garcia keep some 600 others.

The sheriff told the jail commission that broken intercoms, which contributed to the failure, should be replaced by this month, and that the jail’s 701 San Jacinto building should have a new security and communication system by next summer.

Garcia has said he will work with the Justice Department to fix the issues that have not yet been resolved.

“We are cooperating with DOJ,” Murray said. “Unfortunately, the DOJ report seems to be consistent with the overall management of the organization in the past. The sheriff is committed to changing that.”

Thursday, June 4, 2009

More on jail diversion

Use of the Sequential Intercept Model as an Approach to Decriminalization of People With Serious Mental Illness

Mark R. Munetz, M.D. and Patricia A. Griffin, Ph.D.

The Sequential Intercept Model provides a conceptual framework for communities to use when considering the interface between the criminal justice and mental health systems as they address concerns about criminalization of people with mental illness. The model envisions a series of points of interception at which an intervention can be made to prevent individuals from entering or penetrating deeper into the criminal justice system. Ideally, most people will be intercepted at early points, with decreasing numbers at each subsequent point. The interception points are law enforcement and emergency services; initial detention and initial hearings; jail, courts, forensic evaluations, and forensic commitments; reentry from jails, state prisons, and forensic hospitalization; and community corrections and community support. The model provides an organizing tool for a discussion of diversion and linkage alternatives and for systematically addressing criminalization. Using the model, a community can develop targeted strategies that evolve over time to increase diversion of people with mental illness from the criminal justice system and to link them with community treatment.

Treatment as an Alternative to Jail for People with Mental Illness

By Rebecca A. Clay

Imagine you’re a police officer who spots a man trespassing, urinating in an alley, or engaging in some other illegal behavior. When you confront him, he mutters, won’t look you in the eye, and just seems a little strange. Not knowing what else to do, you put him in jail.

And there he sits, not getting treatment for what turns out to be a serious mental illness. The trauma of incarceration actually makes the man’s psychiatric problems worse. Soon after his release, he gets arrested again.
Related Stories

That’s just the kind of scenario that the Targeted Capacity Expansion Grants for Jail Diversion Programs is designed to prevent. Launched by SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) in 2002, the program targets the unnecessary incarceration of nonviolent adult offenders with mental illnesses.

Read the rest here.

Click here for some links for jail diversion.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Study Documents High Prevalence of Serious Mental Illnesses among Nation’s Jail Populations

WASHINGTON (June 1, 2009) – A new study released today of more than 20,000 men and women entering jail offers the most accurate accounting in more than two decades of the number of adults with serious mental illnesses in these facilities.
Using screening instruments to identify individuals entering jails with the most serious mental illnesses and the greatest need for comprehensive and continuous treatment, a team of researchers from the nonpartisan Council of State Governments Justice Center and Policy Research Associates found that 14.5 percent of males and 31 percent of females—or 16.9 percent overall—met that criteria. The percentage of women with serious mental illnesses in jail is double that of men—a particularly troubling finding given the overall growth in the female jail population and the lack of research on the reasons for this overrepresentation.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Here we go again - another jail plan for Smith County

From the Tyler Paper:

2 New Plans To Add Beds To Smith Jail On Agenda

Staff Writer

Ending jail overcrowding in Smith County by renovating and constructing jail space will be discussed by architects and members of the Commissioners Court during a meeting tentatively scheduled for this month, County Judge Joel Baker said.

Baker discussed options and an expected meeting with commissioners Jeff Warr and Terry Phillips during Monday's Commissioners Court meeting. Commissioners Bill McGinnis and JoAnn Hampton were not present because of scheduled leave. Baker said the group will discuss two possibilities for adding between 147 and 294 additional beds to the existing central jail facility for $15 million to $22 million. Building up and adding one or two floors are viable options, Baker explained to the court.
He said adding one floor would allow for 147 extra beds at a cost of around $15 million while adding two new levels would cost around $22 million for 294 additional beds.

Architect Curt Parde, of HDR Inc., said he and his staff have evaluated the drawings for the central jail facility and that "the structure as it was designed is more than adequate" for two additional floors. County officials toured the site with Parde in December to discuss possible additions and changes to maximize the number of beds and usable space.

Parde said the scope of the preliminary project includes applying the jail's current design elements to any additions to maximize prison beds in a "confined space." The project would also call for building a new kitchen/laundry space on the Low/Medium Risk site, freeing up the lower level for renovation. The lower level would be used as clinic and infirmary space and a new exterior sally-port and use the existing sally-port area to expand the inmate booking area.

"Those are the major components," he said.

The central jail can house up to 276 prisoners on the second and third levels in a combination of single cells, multi-occupancy cells and dormitories. The ground level of the jail serves as its primary support space.

Warr said "all options," even privatization, are "on the table."

"We are looking for every option available," Warr said. "Building costs are down and it could be a good time for us to take care of this problem that has been within the county for going on a decade."

He said he was pleased the initial idea would add needed beds and facilities and utilize the existing structure and tunnel at lower cost than proposed in prison bond packages previously rejected by voters.

Phillips said the plan sounded like a positive step toward addressing the county's needs and reducing the financial burden on taxpayers. But, he said, he couldn't give a definitive statement on the possibility of adding floors because Monday's meeting was the first he had heard about the plan and more details are needed.

He said the proposal would bring shipped prisoners back to the county, along with the money it costs to ship, house and care for out-of-county inmates. Phillips suggested after the previous defeats of jail bonds this would probably be an acceptable alternative for voters, but that if the numbers showed there would be no increase to the tax rate, he would be willing to consider certificates of obligation to fund the project.

"If we can cover it and build it without changing the tax rate, I don't mind not going to voters. But if it does, I think we should," Phillips said.

Baker said when Parde confirmed the structure could support additional floors and saw the preliminary price tag, he believed it to be the best option for the county. He said, even after the previous failed bonds, he believes the decision should go before voters.

"I want voter approval, especially based on the history of this project," he said.