/ Modified dec 15, 2023 4:36 p.m.

Blue Ribbon Commission asking for public feedback before releasing jail report

The commission will release a final recommendation on whether the county should build a new $400 million jail early next year.

360 pima county BOS file Residents observe a Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting. May 2019.
AZPM Staff

In October, Pima County officials said they needed an additional 60 days to release their findings report on whether the county should build a new jail.

Now, more than 60 days later, an initial findings report is expected next week, but a finalized recommendation will require public comment.

In a Dec. 13 letter from Blue Ribbon Commission Chair Daniel Sharp to County Administrator Jan Lesher, Sharp said “most” of the working draft was done, but they would not finalize it until after a public survey set to go live over the holidays.

The commission, which was chartered to discuss the possibility of building a new Pima County Jail facility, has been meeting since March. Diana Durazo, Senior Advisor to the County Administrator, said the initial findings report will include the most important results of the commissioner’s work.

The initial findings report will now be released Thursday, Dec. 21st. The survey asking for feedback on those initial findings will go live Dec. 26.

Durazo said the results of that survey, with questions written and submitted by commissioners, could impact their final recommendations.

“If there’s something that they’d like to see or something that wasn’t considered…it could potentially add another recommendation or include information that wasn’t already part of the draft,” she said.

The public survey will be open for three weeks until January 13th.

In his status update, Sharp also said the commission has found there are “limited options to address the current real and growing needs of the facility that impact inmates, Corrections and medical staff.”

The county’s efforts to examine the question of building a new jail have received intense backlash from activists groups, and family and friends of those who have died after being incarcerated there. Critics cite the abnormally high number of jail-related deaths, and say that expanding the jail is not the answer.

One of the Blue Ribbon Commission meetings was adjourned after just four minutes in August, after protestors played live music and chanted against a new jail. That meeting was supposed to be the first opportunity for the public to comment on the commission. Comments were rescheduled for a virtual meeting Aug. 22, where members of the public expressed frustration and grief.

As for whether the commission will recommend a new jail or not, the draft findings report is now expected January 31st, after results from the survey are analyzed and included.

Then, the report goes to Lesher for comment and ultimately submission to the Board of Supervisors. The item is expected to be discussed at the Feb. 20th meeting, with the potential for a vote.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
AZPM is a service of the University of Arizona and our broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents who hold the trademarks for Arizona Public Media and AZPM. We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples.
The University of Arizona