NewsCovering Colorado


Commissioner looking at solutions to jail overcrowding

Posted at 4:56 PM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 20:38:56-05

PUEBLO COUNTY- Colorado is facing an ongoing challenge: too many inmates and not enough space in county jails and state prisons.

While the impacts of an overcrowded jail go beyond the inmates and correctional officers, a Pueblo County Commissioner is looking at some solutions to alleviate the problem.

‘A jail is a jail, but nonetheless people need to be safe including the people that work there everyday,’ said Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz.

Ortiz knows that voters didn’t want a tax increase to fund a new jail in 2017, so he’s looking at a couple of options.

One of those options is to do some restructuring in the budget, which could mean moving around what Ortiz estimates to be at least $50 million.

‘We have to get creative and I think we have to go for some options that are a little less expensive,’ said Ortiz.

In the past, the county has looked at mobile units and other alternatives beyond a brand new structure.

Ortiz hasn’t completely ruled going back to the voters again for more money.

The discussion comes on the heels of an announcement made Tuesday by El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, where the county’s jail is at a ‘critical’ number of inmates.

As of Wednesday morning, 1,674 inmates were in the Criminal Justice Center in El Paso County.

With Pueblo County’s jail over-capacity, eleven of pueblo’s inmates are staying in El Paso County.

In total, 19 inmates that should be in Pueblo county’s jail are in other jails currently.

An additional challenge is state prisons are also facing a challenge of having enough room for inmates.

Both Pueblo and El Paso counties are holding inmates for the Department of Corrections.