Big changes coming soon to jail in Pima County

Mix up causes maintenance issues
Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 7:09 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Following complaints by Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos that the jail has been neglected for years, changes are coming.

Nanos gave KOLD News 13 a tour last week which showed glaring problems which included standing water in the kitchen, mold in women’s showers, broken floor tiles, leaking water faucets, sinking walls, rust-covered balconies and much more.

“This gets very frustrating,” Nanos said. “This is very egregious, it’s just neglect.”

It began when some concrete came loose in a women’s recreation area, which was closed for safety reasons. On closer inspection, another recreation area had the same problem.

“So now my staff, despite the fact they’re short handed, have to find a way to get those 143 inmates some recreation time in a secure, safe yard,” he said.

Pima County facilities management sent an engineer to the jail who determined the damage was not structural and would not collapse. It’s being repaired and likely the other issues will as well.

“It’s a problem, we need to fix it,” said Sharon Bronson, chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors. “End of story.”

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said it’s the county’s responsibility and it has the money to make the needed repairs.

The county, according to Bronson, has a legal and constitutional obligation to make sure the jail meets standards and criteria. In some places, it likely does not.

“We need to provide an environment that’s not just safe for my staff but safe for the inmates we have in our custody,” Nanos said.

Pima County’s facilities management has responsibility for the jail but many of the past issues have not been addressed.

The county is having internal discussions to find ways to fix the problems.

The building is 40 years old and is showing its age according to Lisa Josker, the facilities management department head.

“We are changing the process, a shift in focus,” she said. “There are some things which need to get in the cue.”

Bronson feels there needs to be a change in the process.

“They have their own facilities management folks,” she said of the jail. “So I think we need some consolidation and we need to fix it.”

In a memo released by Huckelberry late Monday, June 14, apparently, some members at the jail felt the work would come out of the PCSD budget. Money that would have been used for maintenance was used for other things in the department.

Huckelberry assured Nanos that it does not reduce his budget and in the future, all maintenance will be handled by facilities management and paid for by the county.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.