Why are we talking about a new correctional facility?
The County of Berks’ approach to justice and confinement has been modernized. With more efficient, sustainable space for employees, visitors and the temporarily incarcerated, as well as flexible space for rehabilitation and education, those confined in the Berks County Correctional Facility will be better prepared to re-enter the community in a more productive manner.
What will happen to the current jail when the new one is built?
The County will evaluate potential uses during the site planning phase of the project; however, it has been determined through multiple studies that rehabilitation to maintain the existing property as part of a modern correctional facility complex would most likely be cost prohibitive.
Will the new correctional facility be sustainable?
The County of Berks will meet the community’s needs by planning and building a correctional facility that is secure, safe, sustainable and allows for compassionate confinement. Our intent is to promote and encourage the use of sustainable practices that support a high-performance building and cost-efficient operations along with prioritizing the health and well-being of those employed and temporarily incarcerated inside the new facility. Learn more about the County’s approach to sustainability for the facility here.
Where does the project stand to date?
The County of Berks is currently in the pre-design/construction services phase of the project. Work in this phase prepares the County to make decisions about the best course of action in building a new facility. This phase includes outreach with various stakeholders including an Organizational Analysis of the current Berks County Jail to understand staffing issues; a Needs Assessment to aid in decision making for long-term capacity requirements; Architectural Programming to further define types and square footage of spaces that will make up the new facility; Financial Modeling to determine the best way to pay for the project; and drafting of a Procurement Method to select an architect and builder. This phase of the project is scheduled to be complete at the end of February 2023; at that time, County Commissioners will decide the best process to move forward.
How much will a new correctional facility cost to build?
Once preliminary planning is completed, the County, along with its financial advisors, will evaluate the most efficient and cost-effective manner to pay for the new correctional facility, with the outcome being a new energy-efficient facility that offers tax payers a more efficient building to operate and maintain.
Why is the name of the facility changing?
The new building will be called the Berks County Correctional Facility to reflect the modernized approach to justice and incarceration, with a more efficient, sustainable facility for visitors, employees and those temporarily incarcerated for two years or less or those awaiting transfer to another facility.
What were the findings from the Needs Assessment?
The county has been recognized as being ahead of national trends on its criminal justice reform initiatives. While incarceration rates per 1,000 people in the county have declined steadily over the past 15 years, those incarcerated requiring mental and behavioral health programming has increased, requiring more specialized, flexible space. CGL’s Needs Assessment report recommended 960 beds, down nearly 24 percent from the 2018 study. You can read the summary here.