- County Administration
- Cochise County Jail District
Cochise County Jail District
"We saw firsthand the state of the jail. It’s clear that the current situation is unsustainable. The problems cannot be overcome with money. It’s at its end of life. Our opinion was that we face this issue head on and form the district. We unanimously agreed a new jail is needed. The district and the sales tax should be put to the voters."
- Retired Superior Court Judge James Conlogue, Jail District Public Outreach Committee 2022
The Cochise County Jail is significantly outdated and faces safety concerns, power capacity issues, plumbing problems, technological problems, leaks, and other costly repairs. It was originally designed to house 168 prisoners, but over the years, it has been modified to hold as many as 302 inmates.
A recent assessment of the Cochise County Jail found that the 40-year-old facility has lasted twice its expected life, but now faces maintenance costs that are estimated at several million dollars. These needed improvements would not improve officer safety or provide space and staffing for 24/7 jail medical services.
The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and County leadership worked together with community leaders, public health and safety professionals, and finance experts to better understand the public safety needs of our community through an extensive public process. The Public Outreach Committee made a unanimous recommendation that a new jail was needed and a Jail District Question regarding funding for facilities and staffing should be decided by the voters.
THE JAIL DISTRICT QUESTION:
Invests in Detention Officer Safety and the Public Safety of Our Community
Provides Help for the Mentally Ill
Helps the Jail Manage Ongoing Medical and Drug Addiction Needs
WHAT IS ON THE BALLOT?
The Jail District Question asks voters to consider a temporary half-cent sales tax for no more than 25 years to fund the Cochise County jail system to improve staff safety, additional help for the mentally ill, and manage medical needs. County officials are working with our federal and state elected officials to protect our taxpayers by securing outside funding including a $20 million investment from the State of Arizona to help offset some of the costs. These investments, however, are contingent upon the establishment of funding for the jail district.
Publicity Pamphlet and Sample Ballot
View pamphlet and sample ballot (PDF)
WHY A SALES TAX?
A sales tax ensures that everyone pays a portion of the jail costs. Nine out of fifteen counties statewide have a jail tax including both neighboring Santa Cruz and Graham Counties. The only alternative is a property tax paid solely by Cochise County property tax owners.
January 4 & 11, 2023
PUBLIC NOTICE - REQUEST FOR ARGUMENTS
“FOR” OR “AGAINST” THE COCHISE COUNTY JAIL DISTRICT EXCISE TAX ELECTION
Posted online and published in Sierra Vista Herald Review
All arguments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on or before Wednesday, February 15, 2023
3/27/2023 - 4/7/2023
Open House Public Meetings | 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Last day to register to vote in this election
Ballots mailed to all active registered voters
ALL-MAIL SPECIAL ELECTION
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is on the ballot?
The Jail District Question asks: Shall the Cochise County Jail District levy an excise (sales) tax for a period of twenty-five (25) years at a maximum rate of not to exceed one half of one percent (.50%), or 1/2 cent, to be used only for acquiring, constructing, operating, maintaining, and financing of county jail facilities and a county jail system?
What would the funds be used for?
Arizona state law sets the purposes for which funds may be used: acquiring, constructing, operating, maintaining and financing county jails and jail systems. As part of this, these resources would be used to invest in detention officer safety and the public safety of our community, provide help for the mentally ill, and help the jail manage ongoing medical and drug addiction needs.
Was the public involved in the process to call an election?
At the request of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors launched a transparent public process to explore the county jail needs, improvements, and potential costs to the taxpayers. The Jail District Public Outreach Committee (Committee), made up of 12 individuals from throughout the community, worked together with public safety, public health professionals, and finance experts to better understand the issue. The Committee focused on officer and inmate safety, the criminal justice system, crime and immigration challenges, transportation challenges, changes in technology, modern court proceedings, mental health needs, medical needs, tax and financial implications, and other factors. The Committee made a unanimous recommendation that a new jail was needed and a Jail District Question regarding funding for facilities and staffing should be decided by the voters.
What role do jails play in our public safety?
Cochise County has the main jail in Bisbee and two substations (temporary holding facilities), one in Sierra Vista, and the other in Willcox. These three facilities are responsible for housing all arrests made in all of the county by both the Sheriff’s Office and local police departments. These facilities hold inmates charged for everything from mental health-related issues to drug charges, juveniles charged with adult crimes, violent offenders, and much more. Our public safety infrastructure relies upon these facilities to meet the needs of our citizens, our community, and our region.
What are the challenges of the current jail?
The Cochise County Jail is significantly outdated and faces safety concerns, power capacity issues, plumbing problems, technological problems, leaks, and other costly repairs. It was originally designed to house 168 prisoners, but over the years, it has been modified to hold as many as 302 inmates. A recent assessment of the Cochise County Jail found that the 40-year-old facility has lasted twice its expected life, but now faces maintenance costs that are estimated at several million dollars. Changes in the inmate population over the last 40 years have also led to a need for increased help for the mentally ill who are incarcerated as well as a growing population with ongoing medical and opioid needs.
Where can I find information on the new jail?
The construction of a new jail is a topic of great community wide concern. The County Sheriff’s Office will be engaging the public in a transparent process once the engineering, design and location site studies are underway. The funding of a jail district is the first step in this planning process because it will allow the County to determine the budget based on anticipated revenues.
Can Cochise County just renovate the existing jail?
Over the years, the current facility has been modified to incorporate basic technologies like internet to accommodate radio communications, and many other modifications to meet increasing federal regulatory requirements. Further renovations would be costly and would not address challenges to officer safety or space and staffing for 24-hour jail medical services.
Where can I learn more about the jail district and Public Outreach Committee Process?
All of the meetings have been public.
Review agendas, minutes, and videos
Why a sales tax?
The Jail District is a special district that must be funded by tax revenue. The sales tax structure would effectively spread the cost of jail construction, maintenance and operations to all people engaging in commercial activity within Cochise County, resident or otherwise. The alternative would have been property tax paid solely by Cochise County property tax owners.
Is the tax permanent?
No. This vote is for the approval of a temporary half-cent sales tax for no more than 25 years.
Are there other funds available to help reduce costs?
County officials are working with our federal elected officials to receive additional funding and recently secured a $20 million investment from the State of Arizona to help offset some of the costs – these investments, however, are contingent on the County raising sufficient monies to fund the remainder of the new jail project.
HOW DO I REGISTER TO VOTE?
For Implementation of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA)
If this is your first time registering to vote in Arizona or you have moved from another county in Arizona, your voter registration form must also include proof of citizenship or the form will not be processed.
List of acceptable documents to establish your citizenship:
- Arizona Driver's License number or non-operating identification license number issued after October 1, 1996 (number only; do not send in the card)
- A legible photocopy of a driver's license or non-operating identification license issued by another state that identifies United States Citizenship on the license
- A legible photocopy of a birth certificate that verifies United States Citizenship
- A legible photocopy of your United States passport containing your name and passport number
- A legible photocopy of United States naturalization documents or the number of the certification of naturalization. If only the number is provided, it will need to be verified before the voter registration can be processed
- A Bureau of Indian Affair's card number, Tribal Treaty Card Number, or Tribal Enrollment Number (number only; do not send in the card)
Do not send originals; only send legible photocopies as outlined above.
REGISTER TO VOTE ONLINE
VERIFYING YOUR STATUS
To verify your voter status please visit Arizona Voter Information Portal or contact the Recorder's Office at 520-432-8358.
BALLOT DROPOFF LOCATIONS
IN THE NEWS
- Commentary: Committee to study solutions for county jail, Aug. 2, 2022
- Jail district committee convenes to debate future of facility, Aug. 8, 2022
- Commentary: Jail district committee serves your interests, Aug. 15, 2022
- Smuggling impacting county jail, Aug. 29, 2022
- Commentary: Make room for more inmates, Aug. 30, 2022
- Jail committee hears about court challenges with inmate communication, transportation. Sept. 7, 2022
- Commentary: Chaos creates danger at current jail, Sept. 15, 2022
- Technology, healthcare needs discussed for proposed jail, Sept. 20, 2022
- Tour, expert give committee outlook on need for new county jail, Sept. 27, 2022
- Survey: Half of county residents unaware of new jail proposal, Oct. 12, 2022
- Supervisors to consider new jail district with public input, Oct. 26, 2022
- Proposed jail district to be discussed November 15, Nov. 12, 2022
- Voters asked to approve new jail project, Nov. 21, 2022
- No support for new jail tax from Willcox mayor, council, Dec. 7, 2022
- Cochise County voters to decide on potential new jail in May, Dec. 29, 2022
- County jail commander talks jail district. Feb. 6, 2023
- New jail would offer improved health care options for inmates, Feb 22., 2023
- CCSO prepares for community meetings to build jail district support, Mar. 8, 2023