February 19, 2020—PHOENIX— Maricopa County is entering a new era of public safety, one with the promise of more efficiency for taxpayers and better outcomes for those who enter and exit the jail system. Today, county and municipal leaders joined the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Paul Penzone, and Presiding Judge Joseph C. Welty for a ribbon cutting ceremony and tour of the new Maricopa County Intake, Transfer, and Release (ITR) facility.
The 500,000 square foot ITR facility features:
- A 1,280-bed jail for long-term stays to replace the aging Durango Jail
- A 512-bed holding area for people expected to be released within 72 hours, which hasn’t existed previously
- A central intake facility to replace the current one at the 4th Avenue Jail downtown
- Four courtrooms to accommodate court appearances on site.
By having all bookings and releases—as well as a majority of services—at one location, Maricopa County expects savings in both time and money.
“We didn’t want to just build another jail; we wanted to create a better system for managing the 100,000 people who come through our jails each year,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman, District 4. “The fact is, we had some inefficiencies. Officers spending half their shift waiting for a suspect to be booked; inmates being transported from one facility to another, at a cost, only to be released shortly thereafter. The ITR project took the latest research and best design practices in this field to create a facility that protects public safety, increases efficiency, and gives those who come through our jails the best chance of success upon release.”
“This facility represents a huge step forward in our collective effort to protect our growing community and dispense justice fairly. It brings so many services into one place, which is better for taxpayers, better for our law enforcement and criminal justice partners, and better for individuals and families trying to navigate the system,” said Sheriff Paul Penzone. “And importantly, I believe the ITR will provide our officers with the best environment possible to do their jobs safely and in a matter consistent with our highest standards as we work towards a stronger and better Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.”
“The ITR provides transparency for victims, the public and the accused at an important stage of the criminal process,” said Hon. Joseph Welty, the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court in Maricopa County, “Defendants have a right to be seen by a judge within 24 hours of their arrest so that a release determination can be made. The ITR allows for defendants to be seen promptly but also allows for sufficient collection of background information so the court can make informed, evidence-based release decisions.”
Below is a quick summary of the changes and expected benefits of the Intake, Transfer, and Release Facility:
Currently, most suspects are booked in downtown Phoenix at the 4th Avenue Jail. The intake process can be long with some intakes lasting more than four hours.
Now, all bookings will be done at the ITR, where an open seating design and better layout should significantly reduce intake time. Our hope now is that intakes will last less than one hour. That means officers will be back on the streets of their cities and towns faster, doing the work that keeps people safe.
REDUCED TRANSPORT COSTS
Having intake at the ITR (near many other facilities on the county’s Durango campus) will reduce the number of transports, saving money. In fact, it is estimated 60% of arrestees booked into the ITR will stay at the facility or will be released with no immediate transport needs.
BETTER OUTCOMES FOR LOW-RISK OFFENDERS
Research shows that as little as 24 hours in jail for low-risk offenders can increase their risk of reoffending and coming back to jail. That is why Maricopa County dedicated space at the ITR for the Adult Probation Department’s pre-trial services staff to complete validated risk assessments to help judicial officers make decisions about release conditions. Correctional Health staff will also be on site to assess needs and risk during intake. Some arrestees may qualify for diversion programs rather than jail. For those who cannot be released immediately, there is a separate, 512-bed holding area for short-term stays, which the county hasn’t had before. Approximately 70% of people housed in our jails have not been convicted. Research shows it’s important to keep these individuals engaged in their communities while they’re dealing with criminal charges. Getting low-risk offenders out of custody more quickly can ensure these individuals do not lose their homes and jobs while dealing with criminal charges.
BETTER ACCESS TO COURTS
The ITR facility provides more transparency and access to court proceedings than the current process at 4th Avenue Jail, while simultaneously protecting the fundamental rights of both victims and persons accused of crimes. The grounds include four courtrooms on site, complete with judicial chambers, office space for staff, prosecutors, victim advocates, and defense attorneys, as well as public viewing galleries. Maricopa County Justice Courts will hold hearings ia remote video conferencing, while Phoenix Municipal Court is set up for two daily Initial Appearance (IA) calendars as well as arraignments, change of pleas, and sentencing. The two remaining courtrooms are controlled by the Superior Court in Maricopa County. For now, only the IA court will be open. The other courtroom is reserved for a future buildout to accommodate anticipated growth as the county population increases.
The $185 million ITR facility was approved by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in 2015. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office staff received the keys to the facility in early February and are planning to open the facility in April 2020.