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Bingham County Jail experiencing significant overcrowding

Holding cells in Bingham County
Empty holding cells at the Bingham County Jail in Blackfoot.

BLACKFOOT, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The Bingham County jail has a capacity of 101 inmates, but they've been well over that mark since "July of last year," according to Sheriff Craig Rowland.

The past four months have seen the most significant overcrowding. According to Rowland, the jail was holding 131 inmates just two weeks ago.

"That meant 30 were sleeping on the floor," he said.

Some inmates have had enough and called the ACLU to file complaints. But Bingham County has been unable to move them since other jails are also full.

The main cause of the excess is that Bingham County, like many others jail, is housing numerous state inmates. Currently, Rowland estimates he has at least 20 in his custody. Generally, jails will hold the inmates until the IDOC can pick them up.

"I met with the director last Wednesday and asked him to move the prisoners out of my facility and not one person's been gone," Rowland said.

During the meeting with Josh Tewalt, director of the Idaho Department of Corrections, Rowland was told that the state would be moving a handful of inmates to Colorado but was given no timeline.

The Sheriff has been working to get low-risk offenders out on pre-trial release, trying ankle monitor systems, among other things, to lower the population.

According to Rowland, the jail is losing money holding the inmates. The state will pay each jail $75 after they've held an inmate for seven days, something they're currently trying to lower to $60, while the state average to house an inmate is about $99 per day.

"So it's a little over $400 a day that we're losing," he said.

Ada County is among the others dealing with similar issues. Rowland said Ada has 409 state inmates housed there and, as a result of overcrowding, the jail has not been certified by the Idaho Sheriffs' standards for three years.

"I'm due for my inspection next month," Rowland said. "I've been doing this for 25 years and I've never failed an inspection, this could be my first one."

A failure would have numerous repercussions for Bingham County, such as losing the ability to house a federal prisoner.

"There's gotta be a change," Rowland said. "Whether it's a new prison in Idaho or they ship inmates out of state, something's gotta happen, we gotta have a relief. And that's what we're not seeing right now."

As of 5:50 p.m. Tuesday, Bingham County was holding 112 inmates, 11 over capacity.

Blackfoot / Crime Tracker / Idaho / Local News / Regional News

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