El Paso County searching for solutions for jail overcrowding issue

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Creative solutions were suggested to fix the overcrowding issue at the El Paso County Jail, which is now over 100 percent capacity.

It’s at a record high, but possible inmate transfers or staff changes could be costly.

The El Paso County jail serves 7 to 8 different municipalities in our area, so there are a lot of inmates to deal with.

Our large county coupled with a growing population is one of the factors officials said is contributing to the overcrowding issues.

“We are looking into it,” said Jackie Kirby with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.  “A combination of working with county commissioners, us working with courts, to see if sentence can be reduces, PR bonds can be increase, creative solutions, to better house our inmates.”

“Building a new jail or adding to the existing facility is just not an option for us,” Sheriff Elder said in a statement.  “My jail Command Staff and I are working to find ways to manage our jail population including moving inmates to other facilities in our state.”

Local attorney Pat Mika knows that jail transfers come with a cost.

“When we ship them out to those counties, if we can make an arrangement to do that, we end up having to pay them and compensate them, and I don’t know if we have the resources in this county to of that. So it’s really a cyclical problem that doesn’t go away,” said Mika.

On the plus side, the county receives about $55 per inmate per day for housing Department of Corrections inmates as well.

“It’s real easy to use the narrative that everybody loves to use we got to be tough on crime, but there is a consequence for that mentality,” said Mika. “That consequence is cost it’s overcrowding, it’s making it unsafe for the people who are guarding these individuals in jail.”

Mika said that instead of jail, people can be sent to rehab facilities, job training programs, or mental health centers.

Elder also said “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.”

Mika poked a hole in that idea also and said “Hiring more guards, more jail staff more administrators, has a direct consequence to you and me and every other taxpayer in this county and I don’t know if these people are willing to pay for that.”

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