Intake & Detention Facility
The Intake and Detention Facility (IDF) is Lancaster County Corrections Department's maximum security facility. The facility was opened in 1991, and has a capacity of 237. The IDF replaced the old county jail that was located on the ground floor of the County-City Building. The old jail, built in 1969, was severely overcrowded and could not meet the requirements of Nebraska Jail Standards. In addition to inmate housing, the IDF contains the Department's administrative offices, inmate admission and release area, food preparation area, and a courtroom.
The IDF is a "direct supervision"jail, a relatively new concept in the field of corrections. Older jail designs such as the one it replaced, incorporated the use of cellblocks, which consisted of several cells lined up in a row, usually opening into an adjacent dayroom. This layout, referred to as a "linear design", inhibited effective staff interactions with inmates, with most staff/inmate contact taking place through the bars in the dayroom. Because staff remained outside of the cellblocks, the inmates were often able to create their own social structures within, based on intimidation and resistance to staff authority. The linear jail was difficult to manage and was often dangerous for both staff and inmates. The design of the direct supervision jail altered this situation by changing the way staff and inmates interact, and allowing staff to take a pro-active approach to managing behavior.
A direct supervision facility replaces the old cellblocks with housing areas, often called pods. Inmate rooms in the housing areas surround a common day area, which contains seating, tables and recreational equipment. Adjacent to the day areas are exercise yards and rooms for interviews, study, and programs.
But the most important feature of direct supervision is staffing; to correct the problem of insufficient staff supervision, a correctional officer is assigned to each direct supervision housing area. This officer is in charge of the housing area's daily operations, including keeping order, cleanliness of the pod, supervising meals and laundry exchange, and insuring the safety of all the inmates. The design of the facility facilitates this direct staff supervision. In older-style jails , the strongest inmate frequently became the informal leader of the cellblock. In direct supervision jails, however, this person has been supplanted by the housing area officer, and the result is a safer more manageable facility.
The IDF has two 60-bed general population housing areas. There are also specialized areas for housing special needs or protective custody inmates, females, and inmates who need to be separated from the general population. Housing assignments are made based upon the inmate's classification, and inmates who have not yet been classified are housed in a separate reception unit.
In addition to uniformed corrections officers, the department employs correctional specialists who are stationed at both facilities. Correctional specialists perform a variety of duties, including assisting inmates in adapting to the correctional setting, inmate classification, program supervision/development, and volunteer supervision/recruiting. Direct services to inmates include crisis intervention and making referrals to appropriate local mental health agencies. A variety of self-help programs are provided to inmates, including Alcoholics Anonymous, GED, anger management and job search skill training.
Religious programs are coordinated by a full time chaplain provided through Good News Jail and Prison Ministries. In addition to providing direct services to the inmate population, the chaplain recruits religious volunteers and coordinates religious volunteer activities offered to inmates in both facilities.
To provide medical services, nurses are on duty sixteen hours daily, and physicians with whom the Department has contracted conduct regular sick calls and supervise medical treatment. The Department also contracts with a local dentist who provides dental services on-site during bi-weekly visits.
In order to help control food costs, meals services are provide by a private company under contract with the Department. Inmate workers from the Lancaster Correctional Facility provide labor for meal preparation. Meals prepared at the IDF kitchen are transported to the Lancaster Correctional Facility, Lancaster County Juvenile Attention Centers, and the local detox center.
The IDF performs over 9,000 book-ins each year, and maintained an average daily population of 194 inmates in 1997.
Lancaster Correctional Facility
In 1980, the old jail on the ground floor of the County-City building was so overcrowded that some detainees were assigned tables to sleep on. To help reduce the jail population, the Community Residential Center was opened in a renovated building at 27th & Cornhusker Highway. CRC was a 24 bed minimum security detention facility that housed only sentenced male offenders. After a few years the population at CRC increased and more space was needed. In 1983, the program was moved to a building in Airpark and renamed the Lancaster Correctional Facility. In response to increasing population demands, an addition to LCF was completed in 1992. In 1995, the older part of the building was remodeled to meet the requirements of the Nebraska Jail Standards.
LCF houses minimum security adult male and female offenders who are sentenced to county jail by the local County and District Courts. About half the offenders are granted work or educational release by the sentencing judge. This court-ordered release status allows an individual to complete a sentence while maintaining a job or attending school. Offenders not engaged in some form of court-ordered release are assigned to work crews in food service, janitorial duties at LCF, or maintenance/construction.
LCF has a maintenance/construction offender work crew that provides construction, demolition and relocation services to local government agencies under direct staff supervision. The crew also performs routine maintenance duties at LCF. In addition to maintenance work at the facility, the crew completed services for Lancaster County valued at over $58,000 in 1997.
The average daily population of LCF is approximately 100 with a capacity of 136. Offenders housed at LCF may have sentences that range from a few days to a year or more. To be eligible for LCF, an offender must meet several criteria; in addition to being sentenced, they must demonstrate the ability to follow the rules and meet certain classification guidelines. These guidelines take into account a person's past criminal record, current charges and their behavior while incarcerated.