The Payette County Jail is a complex operation and must adhere to the Idaho Jail Standards that are set by the Idaho Sheriff’s Association. The jail is inspected annually by the Idaho Sheriffs Association. Plus, it is inspected quarterly by the Payette County Commissioners.
The Payette County Sheriff’s Office operates a 72-bed Jail Facility, which consists of a booking room, intoxilyzer room, detox room, 5 line-cells, nine multiple bed housing units, a medical room, a law library, cafeteria, kitchen, and outside recreation yard. The original portion of the jail is a 36-bed facility that was built in 1972. It was expanded to a 72-bed facility in 2000.
Multiple Detention Deputies man the Jail Facility. Our staff consists of 2 Jail Administrators, 2 Jail Technicians, and 11 Detention Deputies. These Deputies are responsible for completing any necessary inmate movements, cell checks, booking in new inmates, transport of inmates to court, escort inmates to meals, oversee inmate recreation, and transport of inmates out of the facility for medical care.
Jails operate more efficiently when they are at 85% of capacity or 61 inmates. One of the struggles of a Jail Facility is separating inmates throughout the facility. We house inmates that require protective custody. This can be because of their charges such as, they are co-defendants with other inmates, the victim of their crime is in custody on unrelated charges, or their charges are such that require protective custody. Our ability to separate inmates is diminished when the jail population is greater than 85% of capacity.
One of the standards that we are required to meet is in our jail population levels. The jail population is not necessarily computed or based on the overall capacity; however more specifically, the capacity of each holding area. This standard has been difficult to meet in the last several years. In 2018 we were over capacity 46% of the year and at capacity 4% of the year. Our average daily headcount in 2018 was 72 inmates. In 2019 we added a second administrator to help manage the Jail Facility. During this year, we were over capacity 22% of the year and at capacity 3% of the year. Our average daily population was 66 inmates.
In 2019 some implemented changes that reflected in a reduction of inmate count included pretrial release programs and alternate sentencing programs through our Work Inmate Program and Misdemeanor Probation. Because we typically hold about 18 state inmates at a time, our jail administration also began working with the State of Idaho to encourage the State of Idaho to pick up state inmates as often as possible.
It is vital for the Jail Facility to pass the Idaho Sheriff’s Association Jail Inspection each year. The consequences of failing are very high. Payette County’s insurance company will reduce our liability coverage from $1Million to $500,000 if our facility fails the annual inspection. While there are many standards to meet, the jail capacity standard continues to be challenging due to limited capacity. In addition to the potential impact of liability coverage, the jail is also the single division in the Sheriff’s Office that has the greatest risk of lawsuits.
As the Sheriff of Payette County, I understand the risk involved in maintaining a safe and secure Jail Facility. I will examine the operating procedures of the Jail Facility to make improvements that could help the facility operate more efficiently. It is important to me that the Payette County Jail Facility operates as a safe and secure facility, maintaining compliance with the Idaho Sheriff’s Association Jail Standards.
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