Tuesday, August 21, 2018

El Paso County jail is "bursting at the seams," sheriff says

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2018 at 1:53 PM

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
The inmate population at El Paso County's Criminal Justice Center reached a new record on Aug. 20, at 1,829.

That beat the former record of 1,791 set in August of 2017, the Sheriff's Office said in a release.

The jail, at 2739 E. Las Vegas St., was termed "bursting at the seams" by Sheriff Bill Elder in the release, endangering inmates and detentions officers.

"At today’s population, the jail is at a critical place in which the Sheriff and the staff are feeling the pressures of too many inmates and not enough space or personnel," the release said. "Those numbers impact the safety of both staff and inmates as it increases the likelihood of fights and assaults within the jail."

Elder said in the release, “My number one priority is the impact this situation has on our deputies in the jail. We will continue to focus on jail staffing until we find a more permanent solution. Building a new jail or adding to the existing facility is just not an option. My jail Command Staff and I continue to explore and implement ways to manage our jail population including moving inmates to other facilities within the state.”

The release did not say how much moving inmates to other facilities would cost El Paso County taxpayers. Nor did the release mention the county's practice of holding inmates who couldn't pay a $55 administrative fee who otherwise could have bonded out. On Aug. 14, the county settled a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado by paying $190,000 to 183 people at a rate of $125 per day. Jasmine Sill, who was held for 26 days, will receive $60,000.

The practice has been discontinued.

In June, Elder announced he would roll back the amount of training required of detentions deputies to save money and get more jailers on staff quicker.

It's unclear how much the burgeoning jail population will drive up jail medical and food costs.

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