Jail For Sale Deals With State?

Looks like the State of Idaho is working on a plan to solve the overcrowding problem at the prisons–have the counties build new and bigger jails.
A recent proposed contract deal between county sheriffs and the Corrections Department discussed at an IDAHO ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES DISTRICT III ELECTED OFFICIALS meeting explains why places like Ada and Canyon Counties are building such big jails. We could soon see Expedia and Orbitz brokering jail cell deals.

Randy Blades, Warden of the Idaho Department of Corrections, spoke about a new contract process being worked out with a subcommittee of the Idaho Sheriffs’ Jail Standards Committee and IDOC. The new contracts will allow state inmates housed out of state to be returned to Idaho with some being placed in county jails able to comply with the specifics of the contract.

IDOC will provide case managers to the inmates that will follow them through the county jails and provide appropriate programs that can also be provided to the county sentenced inmates. IDOC will basically be a ‘footprint’ in the county jails and pay for it at $1.00 per program per inmate in addition to $45 per day four housing. The bed needs in the next five years is predicted to be around 5,000.”

THE CALDWELL GUARDIAN attended a local service club lunch on Wednesday where the guest speakers were Sheriff Chris Smith and Lt. Craig Hansen of the Canyon County Sheriffs’ Office. Their pitch was for the new jail to be built on Hwy 20/26 and a bond issue to fund what would eventually be a 2,000 bed jail facility including a medical department to serve, most if not all, inmate medical needs. Two thousand beds are to be built in several phases to be paid for with your property taxes. How did we get from the 800 bed facility at the Jerome Farm property to 2,000 beds out on Hwy 20/26? Potential profit margins renting inmate space may be the incentive.

THE GUARDIAN is concerned that our elected officials have made the decision to get into the JAIL FOR HIRE business with a “we’ll leave the light on for ya” attitude.

Canyon County has a population of 180,000 people based on best guess estimates. The average stay in the Canyon County Jail is currently 18 days. A 2,000 bed jail would give us the capacity to lockup 40,555 of our residents through this facility on an annual basis (given the 18 day average sentences we now have).

Long term debt to build this jail will require approval of voters. This monster will cost almost $40 Million a year to operate based on the $45/day the state will pay to house inmates on top of the bond issue amortization costs of around another $5-10 million a year debt service.

The key to this statewide problem is whether or not county taxpayers are willing to provide detention facilities the State legislature has failed to provide. Ada County is in the process of creating a drug and alcohol treatment center that is an absolute legally mandated responsibility of the State of Idaho.

A final set of concerns are: If Canyon and other Counties invest in long term capital projects, is the state under any obligation to honor these contracts for 30 years or the life of the bonds? Also, are local citizens willing to house the inmates who are sentenced to the state pen?

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. costaprettypenny
    Jan 20, 2008, 3:19 pm

    It never ceases to amaze me that our local media, electronic as well as paper are not on some of the issues brought up on this blog.

  2. The reason why things never get reported in the local media is that it has to be spoon fed to them. Almost without exception, they don’t investigate to report the news, they reprint press releases.

    Also, everything has to be “balanced”. There is no right or wrongness to anything. If someone said the sky is blue, they’d have to balance it with someone who has a differing opionion. That’s too much trouble, hence, just repackage press releases.

  3. Rod in SE Boise
    Jan 20, 2008, 8:23 pm

    The State of Idaho needs to live up to its responsibilities, including treatment centers and prison cells. It should not contract those responsibilities out to Texas, New Mexico, Canyon County, Ada County, or anyone else. Maybe a Federal Court needs to take over management of the state government until competent leadership can be found in Idaho.

    As to the competence of the local news media, both print and TV, they are only equalled in incompetence by the Bush administration.

  4. Have to agree with Rod – incompetance is everywhere.

    Marijuana should be legal – has anyone ever heard of a marijuana user robbing a 7-ll? No. All other drugs should be under the control of drug stores – prescription only. I don’t use any of these substances but we can all see that the “War on Drugs” has been a failure and we need to try something else.

    Having a bizillion people behind bars for a non-threatening activity is a waste of public money, and outsourcing the treatment of drug users is just another way of giving private “contractors” a way to suck up tax money.

    I have heard from an acquaintance of mine that people are held at the prison beyond their sentances because they haven’t taken their drug rehab program because there is no drug rehab program available. Gee, I really like to continue to provide “three hots and a cot” to these guys because they are unable to complete their program because of the State of Idaho not offering it. There is something really wrong with this program.

  5. The war on drugs is going to bankrupt us. And, in conjunction with the war on terror, continue to erode our civil liberties.

  6. DIsclaimer: I am not pro-inmate, I am pro-capital punishment (and would like it sped up a bit)and pro-victims rights and don’t typically have a lot of sympathy for criminals.

    Now on to the topic at hand….
    OK, not that I agree with this idea…I’ll be the first to want UNBIASED and FACT BASED discussion on this….but what is the difference between contracting with private prison corp or an out of state prison compared to an in state county run jail?

    Especially if in doing so it expands the programs available to county inmates.

    Remember that these extra dollars might also inspire other counties to upgrade their own jail facilities to something that doesn’t resemble a 3rd world POW camp?

    And they are extra dollars going into the community? More jobs (guards,construction workers, etc)

    Isnt this what a democratic capitalist society is supposed to do? Use the carrot and not the stick to effect positive change (in this case more rehab, and education programs, more complaint and standardized and less liability prone facilities)?

    It seems we are willing to bash the state government if they ship them out of state for not having accountability, bash them if they build expensive jails themselvs for wasting money, bash them for not shipping them to private corps for wasting $$$, and now we are bashing them for attempting best of both worlds compromise.

    Once again it seems that many of the purveyers of this web site are so anti-establishment that NO solution will be the right one.

    I’m not saying the idea is right or wrong, but it seems a new approach to an epidemic sized problem. it seems one worth a fact based discussion.

    After all, isnt 46 dollars a day and case workers a LOT cheaper for the state than the 50 plus dollars we spend to send them out of state or the 50 plus dollars we pay those greedy overpaid and lazy (sarcasm intended, not offense) blue collar people at DOC?

    I guess I keep coming back here hoping for some new unbiased discussion of an issue rather than the same old conspiracy theories involving the greedy and lazy government worker (at all levels and all pay scales)who receive too much benefits at the expense of the poor down trodden citizen who could fix things “only if…..”

    Once again, not trying to defend those in government, just trying to stamp those damm hypocritical cockroaches that just wont die…..

    Oh yes, one more thing, where do you think all those murderers and child molesters and rapist are housed BEFORE they are sentenced to the state penns, a process that can take months? In the county Jails! So its not we are introducing a new level of bad inmates into the county jail system.

    So, what would be a good discussion?

    1- Is any other state doing this? what are their experiences? any pros and cons?

    2- What is the positive and negative economic impact in $$

    3- What are the standards that ID jails will have to comply with? Are they home grown are a national standard? Are they useful?

    4- WHat programs will be offered specifically? Is it education and rehab, or is it cable TV?

    5- What level of inmates will be eligible for this program from the state?

    These are worthy discussion points. (Hint Hint)

  7. right_on_boise
    Jan 21, 2008, 4:01 pm

    Here! Here! nemo!

    Where are victims rights???

    Public Viewing of Capital Punsihments!!

    Looks like the liberial view from K-College is on target & working well!! Everone is Equal – Everyone Wins & don’t teach how to handle problems on your own that is what the Government is for.
    We can fix all the lives we have messed up to begin with- Typical liberial view

    Have you noticed since the more liberial views that have been running or country, courts, schools, media,radio, music, for the past 50 years? the more Prisons we have needed???

  8. Caldwell Guardian misrepresented the facts given at the luncheon.

    What was said….

    1) Facility would be a modular design. (Like lego’s Paul) You just add on more modules as you need them. Also known as cost efficient building method for those who are non construction lingo oriented.

    2) Original modules would be enough to handle 800 with plans to add more modules IF LATER NEEDED to handle up to 2000.

    3) The FORMER (meaning no longer in office) ex-sheriff you are backing is pitching the dumbest idea to add on to a facility which was designed to accomodate about 350 inmates, not the 600 currently housed there.

    Your simplistic attempt at posting reasonable figures is a load of horsepucky. Check out your facts before spouting off.

    Conservatives claim approximately 7 persons per thousand are incarcerated in community jails on average.

    The Liberals claim many of these people are non violent offenders and should not be in jail. They claim a more appropriate number should be about 4 in one thousand.

    OK, Paul get out your calculator and figure this one out.

    If we follow conservative thinking…

    Total population of Canyon County 15 years ago when the jail opened. 80,000

    Total population today. 185,000

    Wow, big jump!

    Think it might stand to reason, demands for services have increased?

    OK, Conservatives view

    185,000/1,000 = 185
    185 x 7 = 1,295
    Our jail should hold 1,295 inmates

    OK, Liberals view

    185,000/1,000 = 185
    185 x 4 = 740
    Our jail should hold 740 inmates

    Sounds to me like the Chris Smith knows what he is talking about. He is holding over 600 inmates in a facility designed to hold about 350. He is asking for a facility that can hold 800 now with the ability to grow with the community as needed in a cost efficient manner.

    The idea to add on to a jail that was not designed properly to begin with, is mindboggling. Why would you endorse this idea. Oh that’s right, you and George are good buddies aren’t you? You use your site to spread misinformation to help your puppetmaster get re-elected. Which position within his future administration did he promise you? I hope it wasn’t the chief deputies position. Heard he promised it to someone else. What’s sad is this site is allowing your lies to be posted.

    See ya chief deputy….oops I forgot, hasn’t happened yet …. Mr. Alldredge

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