Officials in one Idaho county that has struggled with space in its jail are considering the use of mobile trailers to house prisoners after a recent jail fire left some inmates without beds.
Twin Falls County found beds in neighboring counties for 15 of the 32 inmates displaced by the Nov. 24 fire, which was caused by an electrical issue in a jail annex.
Accommodations for the remaining inmates include sleeping in cots on the floor of the jail.
The jail’s population in recent months has begun to level off after a year of growth, though about 50 inmates are housed in other jails around Idaho on any given day. Officials said the fire exacerbated the space issue.
“This fire could not have come at a worse time,” Sheriff Tom Carter said. “It’s not like we weren’t already in a bind for a place to put people.”
County officials are considering the use of mobile pods to supplement the jail space, an idea they’ve weighed before but not acted on.
The damaged annex was one of three installed in 1994 as a temporary fix to ease jail crowding and is likely beyond repair, officials said.
“To put a whole lot of money into these particular buildings, I just don’t see that happening,” Carter said. “They all need to be gone.”
County Commissioner Jack Johnson, a former Jerome County Sheriff’s captain, said he would like to see the county replace all three annexes, which contain 73 beds. He has suggested installing pods with 100 beds in their place.
“With the age of those, I think it would probably be better to replace them in the process just so we don’t have something catastrophic happen in the next three or four years,” Johnson said.
It’s not clear yet what the pods would cost. The trailers are mobile and could be moved to another location if necessary.