From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 30 - October 23, 2003
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Jail construction: December entry?

by Cat Urbigkit

On Friday, Sublette County Sheriff Hank Ruland and Undersheriff Henry Schmidt talked to Sublette County Commissioners about their concern with the jail project under construction.

Schmidt said that in the last year, the number of inmates the county has handled increased, including to the extent of the county paying about $10,000 to house inmates in Teton County.

Schmidt said the highest liability areas for the department are the evidence area and jail. This year, Schmidt said 409 inmates have been booked into the jail, an increase of 60 over last year.

While work on the courthouse complex continues, the Sublette County Sheriff's Department representatives noted that they are not seeing where work is proceeding on completion of the jail section or the inmate detention pods.

Schmidt reported that as of Friday, "We have 18 inmates, we're at capacity." An added complication is the type of inmate the county has been dealing with, including females and violent offenders, requiring separation from other inmates.

"We're borderline right now for having some serious problems," Schmidt said.

Rick Foley of Hogan and Associates gave the commission a construction schedule update, with Dec. 1 the targeted move-in date for the jail. He explained that the move-in is dependent on the installation of the security/electronics system and an inspection by the state fire marshal.

Schmidt complained about the changing timeline for getting inmates into the larger detention facility from the overcrowded temporary facility in use now.

He emphasized that this is a real liability problem, and if the county were challenged, "at this point, I think we're screwed."

Ruland said the construction priority should be to get the jail done and worry about the upstairs office work and other construction needs later. Ruland said he would much rather get the inmates moved into the detention facility than worry about moving the administrative offices.

Sublette County Commission Chairman Gordon Johnston expressed concern with the tight time schedule and the possibility of something setting the schedule askew.

"I hope my concerns are unfounded," he said.

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