Sheriff Marty Arganbright (right) discusses building a new jail with the Guthrie County Board of Supervisors on April 10. Jailer Mike Herbert (left) and Carroll County Sheriff Ken Pingrey (middle) provide additional input.

Guthrie County Sheriff urges supervisors to consider building new jail

During its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 10, the Guthrie County Board of Supervisors met with Sheriff Marty Arganbright to discuss the poor condition of the Guthrie County Jail. Arganbright has been bringing concerns to the board for the last few years, but this time, he recruited others to help plead his case for a new jail.

In attendance were Chief Deputy Jeremy Bennett, Jailer Mike Herbert, Carroll County Sheriff Ken Pingrey and Guthrie County Facilities Manager Brandon Thompson. 

“The jail inspection is the same every time,” said Arganbright. “I get that the lighting is not adequate, the space is not adequate and that we have no jail classification whatsoever.” 

Arganbright noted that the jail is often full, which requires him to find a surrounding county willing to hold Guthrie County inmates.

“We’re full right now,” Arganbright told the supervisors. “I had one on the floor yesterday. We had to take the female prisoner to Audubon County.” 

In 2017, a total of 344 inmates went through the jail, up from 177 inmates in 2011.

For the last year and a half, Carroll County Sheriff Ken Pingrey has been in the process of creating a proposal for a new jail in Carroll County. Pingrey explained this process to the Guthrie County Board of Supervisors to give them a better understanding of where to begin.

“Our jail report from the state pretty much mirrored yours,” said Pingrey. “What we were running into was lack of classification, inadequate supervision and lack of overall security.” 

With the board’s help, Pingrey set up a jail committee comprised of himself, two supervisors, the county auditor, the head of maintenance and the clerk of court. Together, the committee assessed the conditions of the current jail and toured jails all across the state. 

“We looked at all kinds of different jails,” he explained. “We looked at stand-alone jails that are in the outskirts of town, we looked at jails that were attached to existing courthouses and we looked at remodels.” 

Pingrey noted that a remodel or alteration of any kind to a current jail requires that the entire jail be brought up to the current state code, which is often not feasible.

The committee determined that Carroll County needed a new jail, and they selected a company to conduct a needs assessment. The needs assessment determined how big the jail needed to be based off of the crime index rate, population and crime trends. The cost of the assessment totaled around $32,000. 

“These folks will give you a price tag for a ‘do nothing’ option, so if you possibly have to end up housing your prisoners elsewhere what it’s going to cost the county for the next 30 years,” said Pingrey. “For ours, the ‘do nothing’ option was far greater than building a new jail.” 

Pingrey explained that the company is currently helping the committee determine the best way to finance the project and bring it to a pubic vote. The project is estimated to cost between 7.2 and 8.1 million dollars. 

While the committee is still in the process of determining a location and design for the new jail, Pingrey believes that the bond issue could go to vote as early as August. 

“You guys gotta realize that this jail is a liability,” he told the Guthrie County Board of Supervisors. “It’s outlived its purposefulness, and you need to look at doing something and getting some ideas.” 

Following Pingrey’s presentation, the board tasked Arganbright with putting together a committee to begin the process. Arganbright says he hopes to include a supervisor, the facilities manager and the county auditor. 

“We’ll start with the committee and then see where we go,” said Arganbright. “I understand that this is a big thing.” 

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