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Ada County sues IDOC over cost of housing convicted state inmates

Posted at 1:53 PM, Dec 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-09 22:48:56-05

BOISE, Idaho — The Ada County Sheriff's Office announced Monday they'll be taking the Idaho Department of Correction to court to "get them to stop warehousing their inmates in the Ada County Jail."

In a Facebook post from Sheriff Steve Bartlett, the county stated current practices are putting a financial burden on Ada County taxpayers.

"The average cost per inmate in fiscal 2019 was $102.36 a day," Sheriff Barlett said. "IDOC pays us $55 per day for each inmate for the first seven days, then $75 per day for every day in custody after that. Ada County taxpayers are subsidizing the IDOC. It’s just not fair."

In 1990, former Ada County Sheriff Vaughn Killeen sued the IDOC, and 4th District Judge Duff McKee ordered the IDOC must pick up their inmates in seven days.

"The IDOC appealed that decision to the Idaho Supreme Court, who upheld McKee’s order in 1991," Sheriff Barlett said. "The problem has never really gone away – and has gotten worse over the last few years."

Today, the Ada County jail is housing 354 IDOC inmates, including 87 who are "just waiting for the IDOC to get them," according to Sheriff Bartlett.

Therefore the county is now asking the court to find the IDOC in contempt of the 1991 order that stated IDOC must pick up their inmates within seven days of reaching a conviction.

Ada County is now asking the court to fine the IDOC $250 per inmate, per day, for every day a [convicted] prisoner sits in their jail after seven days.

"This is not something we wanted to do. We’ve been talking with IDOC officials for years about this issue. Promises have been made, but nothing changes, while our jail population reaches critical mass," Sheriff Bartlett said. "We realize the IDOC desperately needs more beds for their inmates, and more resources to help them manage their inmates when they are released back into our communities. We empathize with their plight. However, it is not the financial responsibility of Ada County’s taxpayers. It is the State of Idaho’s responsibility."