URBANA — After several weeks' delay, the Champaign County Board late Tuesday night agreed to issue a request for proposals to conduct a comprehensive assessment of jail needs.
The purpose of the study, to be conducted by a criminal-justice consulting firm, is to review the county's current and future adult corrections capacity requirements and the costs associated with either remodeling the downtown Urbana jail or building an addition to the satellite jail in east Urbana.
The study could be the first major step in what some county officials hope is the shuttering of the 32-year-old downtown jail, which is said to have numerous deficiencies and is inefficient to operate.
Among the numerous amendments to the request for proposals that were voted on Tuesday night, one would have substituted the entire 27-member county board for an eight-member project planning team that includes, among others, the state's attorney, sheriff, jail superintendent and two board members. That motion failed, 16-7.
Another motion to include a person of color from a minority-influenced county board district on the eight-member project planning team generated a brief period of controversy when State's Attorney Julia Rietz said she did "not think there has to be a token person of color on the committee." The statement prompted an outburst from the few people still in the audience at 11:15 p.m.
It was approved 12-11 with all the "yes" votes coming from Democrats.
Under the timetable approved by the county board in a 5 1/2-hour meeting Tuesday, the contract would be awarded this summer.
The board also approved the appointment of Jermaine Raymer of Champaign to the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District board. Raymer, who said in his appointment-request form that he is daily bus rider, was chosen over Thomas Shaw, also of Champaign. Both are Republicans, seeking to succeed Al Anderson, also a Republican.
Three of the 27 board members were absent Tuesday — Republicans Steve Moser and Max Mitchell and Democrat Brendan McGinty.