Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need a new facility?

Lancaster County is embarking on the development of a new correctional facility in what is to become one of the largest projects in the County’s history. Numerous studies have determined the existing prison structures are well beyond their useful life. The original structure was built in 1851 and has not been used in the last 9 years. Since then, additional buildings were constructed in the 1960s – 1990s. Building, utility and mechanical systems throughout the complex are outdated and inadequate. Previous and ongoing maintenance costs for these buildings are significant and exceed any logical measure of a reasonable return on investment compared to a new structure. Further, the site is inadequate to accommodate the needs of a modern correctional facility.

A new site and a new facility will allow the County to modernize its approach to justice and confinement so those confined in the Lancaster County Correctional Facility will be better prepared to re-enter the community in a more productive manner. Further, a new site provides opportunities for movement, light, climate control, parking and visitation; programming opportunities such as education, support services and re-entry services; more opportunities for staff recruitment and retention; and a focus on prioritizing treatment using evidence-based programming to reduce recidivism.

Where is the site?

The site is in Lancaster Township, just south of Lancaster City immediately adjacent to and south of the Greenwood Cemetery on the peninsula created by the Conestoga River. There is currently no public access to the site.

How was the Advisory Committee formed?

The Advisory Committee was formed by the Lancaster County Commissioners to advise county government on the construction of the LCCF. It is comprised of Lancaster County department leaders who will have direct involvement in various facets of the design and construction of the facility, from programming and operations to purchasing of goods and services and information technology. Additionally, the Commissioners solicited applications for two community member appointments; of 15 applications received, Commissioners appointed two community members with ties to neighborhood and community agencies and groups involved with individuals in the criminal justice system.

What are the project’s guiding principles?
  1. Create a safe and supportive environment for staff, inmates and the public
    1. Design areas for staff wellness, including sufficient workstations, training space and break areas
    2. Ensure staff, inmates and the public are safe and feel supported
    3. Plan for spaces to support special populations such as female, mental health and vulnerable ​
  2. Focus programming to support the reduction of recidivism
    1. Set the tone and behavioral expectations at acceptance: preparation for community re-entry process starts at the intake process
    2. Improve access to justice system stakeholders to connect inmates to the community
    3. Provide flexible spaces that can support a variety of program opportunities​
  3. Plan a facility that will serve the community well into the future
    1. Right-size housing units for operational adaptability and the populations served
    2. Allow for adaptability of design to incorporate future needs
    3. Integrate technology to advance and enhance operations, programs, facility maintenance and security​
  4. Establish a positive community footprint
    1. Create a facility that is mindful of the surrounding community, including impacts related to building appearance, noise, light pollution and traffic
    2. Leverage the location for building, site and environmental sustainability ​
    3. Incorporate nature inside and outside the facility
What size facility – in terms of beds – is the County planning to build?

The number of beds in the new facility has not been finalized. The County began the process of collecting information for the number of beds through data assembled during the Needs Assessment, conversations with judicial system stakeholders, and programming. The Design Team, TranSystems, working with the County’s Owner’s Representative CGL, will use this information to prepare bed count options for the County to consider.

A previous RFP mentioned 1,200 beds as the expected capacity of the new facility. Is this still the case?

The number of beds in the new facility has not been finalized. The initial estimate of 1,200 beds used in the previous RFP, #22-005, was an initial estimate made prior to the completion of the Needs Assessment and justice system stakeholder conversations. The new facility will include housing that is right-sized with space for educational resources and social services programs—all aimed at making our community better by reducing recidivism and helping prepare individuals to re-enter society as law abiding and productive citizens.

Does the County expect to build everything at once, or does the County expect a phased approach to construction?

The County will meet the community’s needs by planning and building a correctional facility that is safe, secure, efficient to operate, and incorporates thoughtfully designed long-term solutions for the County’s justice system. Working with the Design Team and Owner’s Representative, the County will plan a facility that is adaptive and flexible with the necessary infrastructure to support the County’s population requirements now and into the future.

What is the County’s budget for this project?

A budget has not been set for the project at this time. Once the Design Team establishes options for the County to consider, the County will evaluate the most efficient and cost-effective manner to proceed with the project. It should be noted a recent article referenced a $163 million project cost. That figure was not provided by the County’s Owner’s Representative, CGL, and was calculated based on an estimate derived from CGL’s contracted fee.

The Needs Assessment shows projections for both Average Daily Population (ADP) and bed count. Which will the County use for determining capacity?

The County must determine the number of inmate beds needed to allow for classification separations based upon the current County of Lancaster Justice System requirements. The ability to provide proper classification impacts overall security and positive outcomes for the housed individuals at the facility. Average daily population (ADP) is considered when planning the facility, but the need is also based on the peaks the system will receive in population. Combining the ADP with the necessary bed requirements to achieve long-term flexibility for classification purposes, allows the county to properly plan and program the new facility. While the County does not control who and for how long inmates are held at the new Lancaster County Correctional Facility, the county does use the data collected from the judicial system to make their projections.

Where does the County post information for LCCF Requests for Proposals?

The County of Lancaster posts Invitation for Bids (IFB) and Requests for Proposals (RFP) on the County Website and the Public Purchase website. Registration is free for vendors and is a two-step process explained in the step-by-step document found here.

Which facilities has the project team / Advisory Committee toured?

To date the following tours have been completed by the Lancaster County Jail staff and the Owner’s Representative, CGL.

  • September of 2022, the Franklin County Corrections Center in Columbus, Ohio, and the Washtenaw County Jail in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • March 2023, the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • August 2023, the Douglas County Corrections and Lancaster County Department of Corrections, both located in Nebraska. 

The purpose of the tours is to observe how various jurisdictions have developed facilities for their specific population; and to learn first-hand from operators what has proven to work as they have transitioned into their new facility along with items they would have considered differently now that they are in their new space.

Facility tours are in important part of the development phase to develop a common language that can be utilized throughout the development process, as well as ensuring that due diligence has been done in exploring best practices in existing models relative to housing, deflection, diversion, in-custody treatment, community reintegration and normalized rehabilitative environments.

Who has the project team / Advisory Committee met with to date?

As of August 2023, the project team and members of the Advisory Committee have begun outreach to various stakeholders including the Municipal District Judges (MDJ) of Lancaster County; Lancaster County Chiefs of Police; and Have a Heart. Additionally, during the programming phase, CGL met with multiple groups including Adult Probation & Parole Services, Bail Administrators, Behavioral Health & Development Services, Chief Probation Officer, County Administration, County Information Technology, County Warden, Clerk of Courts, Children & Youth Agency, Domestic Relations, Drug & Alcohol Commission, District Attorney’s Office, Juvenile Probation, President/District Judge, PrimeCare Medical, Prothonotary, Public Defender’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Victim/Witness Service and Youth Intervention Center. Outreach will continue as the project progresses.

The Architectural Space Program that was presented to the Commissioners on Tuesday, December 5, showed a total of 1,212 beds and a total of 482,000 square feet. Is that what the County is planning to build?

The Architectural Space Program is still in draft format and, as mentioned during their Work Session, the Commissioners need to fully evaluate the Program and also need to get feedback from the Community before any final decisions about scope (i.e., size and bed capacity) are made. In facilities such as the proposed LCCF, it is not uncommon to take a phased approach to design and construction so that the overall plan depicts a total facility which may then be designed and constructed incrementally. The County has not yet determined which scope items will be included in the initial phase of construction.

At a recent listening session, it was discussed that the housing units contain areas other than those areas designated for sleeping. What spaces and functions are contained within the housing units?

The major operational philosophy that will affect General Housing is that most inmate programs and services will be brought to the housing unit, thereby limiting inmate movement.  To accommodate this, the following spaces will have to be accessed from the dayroom in the Housing Unit and observable by the housing control officer: outdoor recreation areas, issue rooms, multi-purpose/ program rooms, interview/ counseling rooms, video visitation, inmate restrooms, and showers in addition to sleeping areas.  In addition, a Shared Cluster Area will serve multiple Housing Units and will provide access to unit staff spaces and unit program (classrooms), healthcare (exam rooms), and video inmate spaces (virtual court terminals, video visitation).


While the program document was approved by the Commissioners, there has not been an official vote taken on the size or budget for the project. The program is intended to serve as a guide for the design team to use in developing the LCCF design. The current direction from the Commissioners is to plan for a facility capacity of approximate 1,000 beds with the building’s core functions, such as but not limited to kitchen, laundry, medical, supporting a 1,212 beds capacity. As the design progresses, the design team will encounter conditions such as site constraints, building adjacencies, technology upgrades and changing industry standards that could alter elements such as square footages included within the program.