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Suburban Denver jail struggles with $5.5 million budget cut

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Posted at 3:02 PM, Dec 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-06 17:08:28-05

DENVER (AP) — Sheriff's officials in suburban Denver said Friday that a $5.5 million budget cut has forced them to close one floor of the county jail and to eliminate 51 jobs.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is planning to reduce the number of available beds at its jail by 244 beginning Jan. 1 — from 1,392 to 1,148, The Denver Post reported.

Sheriff Jeff Shrader said he warned the county the changes would be necessary if his department did not receive a bigger budget. But county commissioners said their hands were tied by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which requires governments to return all tax money collected above an amount set by a formula that involves inflation and population.

The sheriff's department is planning a series of steps should the jail exceed its capacity by 2%.

To reduce the jail population, the sheriff’s office could release some inmates early and refuse to book people who have been arrested on some minor charges. If that doesn't work, the office could require arresting agencies to maintain custody of suspects until space is found.

Most of the department's layoffs are expected to be in the detention division.