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Lack of space in county jail leads to proposed hefty expansion

How the November 7 election could help alleviate the growing inmate population
Posted at 11:09 AM, Nov 01, 2023

BOISE, ID — Elections are coming up on Tuesday, November 7. With the rapidly growing population, the Ada County Sheriff's Office is proposing its first bond for expansion since 1992.

RELATED | Bond to expand Ada County Jail will be included in November ballot

Hand in hand with the immense amount of growth in the Treasure Valley, the Ada County Jail has seen a huge jump in inmate population as well.

Idaho News 6 spoke with Jail Lieutenant Joseph Derosier about these issues, and he said the biggest focus was on infrastructure.

To address these issues the Ada County Sheriff's Office is asking for a $49 million bond to help build and add to the already existing jail.

Derosier explained, "With the expansion, we can get a new warehouse. We can get a new transport facility. We can get a new housing unit with 294 beds. We can get to remodel our kitchen and we can get to remodel our booking areas."

The current jail was built to house around 500 inmates. However, today it holds over 1000. Ada County Jail is proposing to build a 61,000-square-foot addition to help alleviate some of that overcrowding.

Derosier says that this project will take care of the current needs now, and is expected to support growth through 2040.

Upon a visit to the jail, I got to see the lack of storage and small facilities that Ada County Sheriff's is pushing to address. One of the biggest things I saw was how many inmates did not have bunks. Many, instead, slept on small cots on the floor.

I spoke with one female inmate who slept in one of these makeshift beds about her concerns with the living conditions. "Your sleeping. You don't get a lot of privacy like the other bunks. It is hard to get up because currently, I am pregnant and I am sleeping on the floor," she explained.

If passed, the bond is estimated to cost taxpayers $3.60/$100,000 assessed property value.

Ada County voters will be seeing the vote for the jail expansion bond on their November 7 ballot.