Ada Jail Offers Discount Rates To State, Travelocity and don’t hold a candle to the Idaho Department of Corrections when it comes to discount room rates.

Beds a little hard, but the en suite toilet and sink combo are convenient.

Beds a little hard, but but the en suite toilet and sink combo are close.

IDOC gets about a 50% discount on rooms at the Ada County jail where the actual cost to keep an inmate is $92 a day. It has been a long standing practice of the state corrections agency to leave inmates in county jails rather than construct more prison cells. Some counties like the $45 a day to offset local costs, but at least in Ada, the county taxpayers subsidize the State of Idaho and it isn’t just for a few bad guys. Room rates are set either by law or negotiated contracts.

In response to a request by the GUARDIAN, Ada County revealed that a recent inmate census showed 165 offenders held for IDOC (rider review hearings, court, waiting to be moved to IDOC to serve time, parole violation, etc.) There were also 73 with $62 rooms held for the U.S. Marshals Service. The sheriff told us the $62 rooms don’t have bigger beds or better meals. However, the Feds did contribute several million for jail cell construction several years ago.

Each guest gets a sweatshirt during their stay.

Each guest gets a sweatshirt during their stay.

Ada taxpayers are paying $7755 a day for state of Idaho inmates to sleep at the Ada Jail. Over the course of a year at that rate, we are donating about $2.8 million that should be paid by the State of Idaho. The 1200 bed jail is nearly full every day.

Ada County Sheriff Steve Bartlett is seeking a grant of nearly $4 million from the McCarthur Foundation to cut down on the number of inmates and provide help to people with urgent mental health treatment at a secure diagnostic facility.

“It would be not only mental health evaluations, but medical evaluations, it would be a center where we could bring law enforcement together to really evaluate what the need is for the person we are dealing with,” said Bartlett.

Allumbaugh House was supposed to be a mental health and detox center, but contrary to political claims by Boise politicos, it is impossible for a cop to take a drunk passed out on the street anywhere but jail or the emergency room, thanks to restrictive policies at Allumbaugh House. See this ALLUMBAUGH post from three years ago.

Rental bracelets available for some.

Rental bracelets available for some.

Bartlett told us that as many as 60% of inmates on any given day are there for “secondary crimes” such as fail to appear, fail to pay fines, contempt of court, probation violation, or simply not being able to pay a fine. He advocates changes in sentencing practices such as electronic monitoring rather than more jail cells.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. We definitely need to rethink our whole incarceration program. Since the “war on drugs” was launched, and mandatory minimum sentencing after that, the number of prisoners per capita has quadrupled. We can now proudly claim #1 status as having the most prisoners per capita of any country in the world, followed by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Turkey, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. The USA has 5% of the worlds population, but 25% of its prisoners. Studies have shown that increased incarceration has very little effect on crime. So, we are bleeding our taxpayers dry, while ruining people’s lives, so that politicians can crow about how tough they are on crime.

  2. I agree with J Smith. I have other issues. The Allumbaugh house was sold as the solution to this problem. Maybe we need both? Not sure. As for Ada subsidizing the state.. we do that for all of the state property and buildings by furnishing services. They don’t pay property tax. My other issue is with requiring that prisoners pay for the tracking ankle thingy. They also pay to be put on the county work crew option. And many are there because they can’t pay a fine. It sounds a lot like a debtors prison to me. And many are just accused.. not convicted.

  3. Corporate Justice
    Jan 31, 2016, 12:54 pm

    The US corporate justice system (CJS)

    Owned or controlled from start to finish by the lawyers. It’s big business, and it’s locking up perfectly good taxpayers at a cost of $80K per year.

    People are jailed and fined for long periods without even having a conviction.

  4. Corporate Justice
    Jan 31, 2016, 1:00 pm

    There is some evidence that high abortion rates has reduced crime… or it could be unleaded gasoline:

    I also support stop and frisk in high crime areas… this should include banker’s and lawyers’ offices:

  5. It is not just Ada County. Call the other counties – even up in little old Council – and you will find housing state inmates is BIG business. And the Sheriffs love the money.

    EDITOR NOTE–We are aware of the “corrections business.” At least in Ada we are losing money, according to the sheriff. We are told the $45 rate is in the Idaho Code (Clancy may find it) and applies statewide. Small counties may benefit, but in reality the state should take care of state prisoners.

  6. Seems like a good arrangement. The rates might the questionable part of the situation.
    Any hotelier knows high occupancy rate is the way to go.

    I would much rather see the County jail close to the 1200 bed capacity than say half capacity. A better question might be why they have so much capacity.

    Particularly for inmates not otherwise living in Ada County it is appropriate that they might be able to stay in the Kootenai County Jail, for example, for visitation and being closer to their family.

    Anyway ya look at it, our criminal justice system has problems!

    -We’ll leave the lights on for you.

  7. The data to show this country’s judicial system is corrupted and in serious need of complete overhaul is overwhelming. However, since trafficking in human life, (be it for sex or jail be occupancy), is big business, the likely hood of either being completely stopped is very small.,-In-the-Public-Interest,-9.13.pdf

  8. Agree with many of the comments… we have far too many people in jail, the result of far to many laws.

    America is 31st in the world rankings for personal freedom (2012 Cato Institute study) much for land of the free…even Chinese controlled states such as Taiwan and Hong Kong, or former Soviet Block countries like Czech, Lithuania, Slovokia and latvia ranked higher for personal freedom.

    As a society we tend to take what is probably a good idea, and make it a law so everybody had to make that same good decision. We tend to not worry about the lack of freedom this creates, since we think the law is a good idea.

    It is easy to not care about those who break the laws, many in jail are repeat offenders who have yet to and may never really add much value to society, but the economic cost is enormous. This is not just money, this is money not going into education, infrastructure, social security, or other beneficial programs.

  9. Eagle Writer
    Feb 1, 2016, 8:24 am

    J Smith,

    Well said. We don’t often agree but you are spot on today. Put bad guys in prison, but no need for most low level druggies.

  10. Yossarian_22
    Feb 1, 2016, 9:34 am

    J Smith, Erico 49, Corporate Justice, Lynn and L.D. say it all for me. We don’t have a justice system, we have a “corrections” industry that requires a recidivist entity to fuel a zombie institution. Yes, there are people that need to be incarcerated for REAL crimes, but the drug prohibition laws are the largest contributor to this corruption. Look how the Scandanavians deal with offenders. They treat them with the real intention of rehabilitation (not to be confused with their refugee problem…that’s a whole other problem). We have got to end this NeoFeudalism.

  11. It seems to me that the Sheriff should talk to the state so Ada doesn’t end up paying for something that the state is doing elsewhere.

  12. At $92 a night, I would expect a cookie on the pillow

  13. Corporate Justice
    Feb 1, 2016, 6:10 pm

    I find it very hard to believe they’d let $3M slip away. Is see several members of a tight knit club near the center of this. What’s the rest of the story? Who’s benefiting? Is it lawful to allow such a large loss? Is it being replaced in some way?

    EDITOR NOTE–Apparently the $45 paid by the state is written in law. Sheriff’s are left with the decision to either turn down the $45 and have empty beds, OR rent at a discount to defray costs. It’s a financial balancing act for sheriffs. Same for our hotel analogy: do you sell at a discount or have unsold rooms? Staff, maintenance, utility costs are fixed, so cheap on-line rooms are worth the gamble.

  14. So one is left with two possible conclusions:

    The sheriff duped voters into building a larger than needed jail (higher fixed costs) so the added capacity could be sold to augment his operating budget, or

    The sheriff was thoughtful, built a facility for future growth, and in the interim it is prudent to sale those beds at a discount for higher utilization and some revenue.

    Not knowing, I would at minimum question if $45 is covering the variable cost to receive, process, store and discharge a “guest”.

    EDITOR NOTE–JJ, good analysis. Of course, all construction was done under the previous sheriff. Bartlett was appointed in 2015.

  15. modern columbo
    Feb 3, 2016, 9:32 am

    With the highest rates in incarcerated citizens why do we still have the highest crime rates in the industrialized world? Drugs are just a symptom of the problem. Theft, burglary and robbery are the income sources for the drugs. We incarcerate people as a result of that. Letting people out will increase crime rates. Just look at California. They passed a measure last year letting out 90,000 inmates. The upswing in robberies, burglaries and such has been proportionate.

  16. Corportate Justice
    Feb 3, 2016, 7:34 pm

    If I’m in the corporate justice business and I want to increase profits, I just need to eliminate my highest cost items. Therefore no jail needed. I’ll still take the tax money, pocket most of it, and give small amounts to my criminals to manage the crime rate at tolerable level.

  17. Corporate Justice
    Feb 5, 2016, 1:51 pm

    Heard about this 20 years ago. Prison is a great place to convert to hate and find a large family who loves you for it:

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