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Canyon County Sheriff pushes for jail safeguards

Posted at 7:08 PM, Dec 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-30 19:14:01-05

Wednesday night's jail escape in Canyon County marks the eighth inmate in an approximately year time frame that someone has been able to break free from the jail, and the sheriff says it's time for a new facility.

Ryan Michael Tone, 36, who was awaiting extradition to Ada County on a felony probation violation and is accused of domestic violence, appeared before a judge Thursday on the new charges he faces.

The court process, in this instance, allowed for Tone's pleads on escape and injury to the jail, both felonies, to be entered following his preliminary hearing set for Jan.12. If the court finds enough probable cause based on the evidence submitted by the state at that time, the case will be transferred over to district court and an arraignment hearing will be scheduled. Tone was appointed a court lawyer and his bond was set at $100,000.

Wednesday night, the Canyon County Sheriff's Office says an inmate escaped the facility by climbing over an interior wall in the kitchen area and breaking through a door. It was an innocent passerby who saw the aftermath.

"That was pretty crazy see someone running across the road naked," said Dan Pugmire, an eyewitness who provided 6 On Your Side with footage of Tone's arrest.

Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue said Tone shed his clothing during the short foot pursuit. While the investigation continues, he said it's possible that someone was waiting to pick him up.

According to Sheriff Donahue, ongoing tension with two county commissions has made it so an outdated and unfit facility for the ever-growing population is unsafe for all involved.

"It seems like they're mad, and they're going to do whatever they can to take shots at the sheriff," he said. "And, that's fine but it's not me they're hurting."

A request, Sheriff Donahue said, to secure the kitchen wall area was denied by commissioners Thursday.

The door that was compromised in the last escape and that was used Wednesday night was replaced with a new one on Thursday. A patrol car blocking the door from the outside will be a standard view until Jan. 9. On that day, the new commissioner will be sworn in whom Sheriff Donahue says has already pledged support for putting immediate safeguards at the jail in place.

With the threat of escapes still high, the sheriff said, he looks to the future with a plan to build a new facility on land that has already been purchased.

"Go out those three miles and build a new jail... and build a new structure and get rid of the ACLU issues, the poor conditions in this jail issues, the tent facility, that all goes away," Sheriff Donahue said.

The Canyon County sheriff put in a request Thursday to the Idaho Attorney General's Office. He's calling for an investigation saying Commissioners Steve Rule and Craig Hanson knew the jail security problems existed and ignored several requests to address the matters. By statute, county commissioners, in general, have a responsibility to take all steps necessary to prevent jail escapes. Sheriff Donahue says they have willfully neglected their duties.

The Canyon County Sheriff will next turn his focus on educating the public on the need for a new facility and forming a committee of which citizens will be invited to be a part of. A bond for the new jail would require a super majority.