Bureau County is a rural west-central county with a population of about 33,000 people. The current Sheriff’s Office and Jail was completed in 1973 with a capacity of 15-beds, and double bunking those cells in the 1980’s expanded the housing capacity to 33 persons in-custody. Studies dating back to 2007 noted the jail has become overcrowded, too small and unsafe, and fails to comply with a number of state and national standards. Bureau County has since looked at various options for expansion on-site – when a very great opportunity presented itself to the county and the county took advantage. The former Bureau County Republican newspaper office and production center a 21,000 SF office and warehouse was purchased for $37/SF including the existing office furniture.

Client: Bureau County
Type: GOVERNMENT, justice center
Size: 37,100 GSF, 21,000 SF remodel

BKV Group completed a study to show how the existing facility could be reused for a sheriff’s office, women’s housing and housing support spaces including a kitchen and laundry, and add a 100-bed male housing addition. The reuse of and remodeling of the building with an addition provided a cost savings of more than $3.3M versus new construction. The building was purchased using funds from a sale of a previous county owned nursing home, however, a referendum to design and construct the new Jail and Sheriff’s Office project was necessary.

Multiple previous referendums for a new jail had failed with the electorate voting 80% no each time. For this new effort, BKV Group worked with the Sheriff and County Board to develop a new strategy and plan using a five step program: 1) campaign due diligence, 2) strategic planning of the campaign, 3) messaging strategies, 4) collateral development, and 5) creating a speaker’s bureau / schedule to educate the public on the facts of the ask. The outcome of the election is the referendum passed with 54% of the electorate approving the project.

Project Outcomes

The new, 62-bed jail addition includes the following spaces:

  • Drive-thru, two-lane sallyport
  • Pre-booking center with medical evaluation room
  • Intoxilator room
  • After-hours visiting and public video visitation
  • Intake/release center
  • Kitchen and laundry
  • Recreation space
  • Program space
  • Medical suite
  • Central control
  • Contact and non-contact professional visitation
  • Sheriff’s Office and Training Center