The Phelps County Sheriff’s Department is planning to expand the functionality of its third floor.


The Phelps County Sheriff’s Department is planning to expand the functionality of its third floor.

 

In seeking approval to solicit bids for the construction of a combination deputy classroom and court-designated hearing room, Sheriff Rick Lisenbe explained to Phelps County commissioners Tuesday that the added room would serve two purposes: A sorely-needed training room for the deputies and a court-designated hearing room for prisoners at the jail.

 

Lisenbe said after checking with the U.S. Department of Justice, the total cost of the project could be borne by reimbursements from the “Asset-Forfeiture Fund,” or what is more commonly referred to as the “Drug Fund.”

 

Additionally, expenditures for prisoner transport to the courthouse would decrease, as jailors would need to spend less time walking prisoners from the jail and awaiting the progression of dockets at the courthouse. Also, hearings in the same building as the jail would alleviate many of the security, safety and liability issues associated with the walk to the courthouse.

 

Another advocate of the plan, Associate Judge Ronald D. White said the additional hearing room would be accessible to the public whenever hearings for prisoners are scheduled.

 

“Almost everything I do in court with prisoners, except a jury trial, can be done in an alternate room,” White told commissioners.

 

Although the plan for an additional hearing room at the Sheriff’s Department has the approval of 25th Judicial Circuit Court Presiding Judge Mary W. Sheffield, not all the court’s judges may hold the same view, White admitted.

 

“Setting a jail docket requires more planning on the part of judges,” White said.

 

The new classroom-hearing room is slated for construction in the rear portion of the third floor of the department, Lisenbe said, with eight-foot partitioned walls and a dropped ceiling.

 

The commission approved Lisenbe’s request to solicit for construction bids.