Commissioners make year-end request for Canyon County Jail

Posted at 5:31 PM, Dec 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-19 20:17:13-05

It has been a contentious year for county leaders in Canyon County. Commissioners are asking the Caldwell City Council amend a special use permit that would force the county sheriff to return the jail's tent structure to a work-release hosing facility. 

After experiencing extreme overcrowding, the jail's tent structure was upgraded to a minimum-security facility in 2010.

A year-long string of escapes has called into question the facility's security. Seven inmates have escaped the jail's tent structure in five separate incidents, the first escape dating back to Dec. 5, 2015. The most recent escape occurred on Nov. 1, 2016, when two inmates climbed over the exterior fence of the exercise yard. 

All seven of the escaped inmates were recaptured shortly after breaking out. 

Jail security is part of the larger issue facing jail staff: overcrowding. 

There have been three separate attempts to get voters to approve a bond for a new jail. After each of those attempts failed, Canyon County Commissioners proposed an expansion to meet the needs of a growing inmate population. 

The plan to expand the jail was shot down several times by the Caldwell City Council. 

In an attempt to secure the tent facility and curb the escapes, Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue asked commissioners to approve a request for upwards of $80,000 to bolster tent security.

Security improvements would include putting a chain-link "lid" over the exercise yard and kitchen facility and adding a buffer fence so inmates can't continue to scale their way out of jail. 

Commissioners Steve Rule and Craig Hanson have refused to authorize the funds for the fortification projects.

Monday night's public hearing addresses Hanson and Rule's most recent request to tighten the conditions on the jail's use permit. 

The meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 19, at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room of the Caldwell Police Department.