Jerome County Jail to fail another inspection

Credit: Troy Colson/KTVB

Jerome County Jail to fail another inspection

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

Idaho's Newschannel 7

Posted on September 21, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 9:40 PM

JEROME, Idaho -- Jerome can't remember the last time its jail passed an inspection. And for years voters have been asked to build a new jail, so far with no luck.

The sheriff says there's no hope the jail will ever meet current standards. Even still, those who work at the jail have a positive attitude, doing the best they can with what's available. But what's available creates a lot of problems.

"The difference between our facility and other facilities, kind of starts right here at the door," said Sgt. Sean Lynd.

Lynd says the problems with the Jerome County Jail can be seen before you even step inside. He says the facility is small and outdated.

"We work with what we've got," said Lynd.

In fact, some of the equipment installed when the building was built in 1975, was already outdated, specifically the toilets.

"Those actually came from old Idaho State Prison, when the old Idaho State Prison was shut down," said Lynd.

The toilets are just the beginning of the problems in the Jerome County Jail. The one-way glass intended to look inside the isolation room was installed incorrectly.   

"The windows were supposed to be reversed, but when they built it, they put them in backwards, so they can see us, but we can't see them," said Lynd.

With the current Idaho jail standards, Sheriff Doug McFall says this building was doomed from the beginning.

"This facility has not meet jail standards for many years, because it was just built in a way that there is no way to meet all the standards," said McFall.

Cindy Malm has inspected the building for the last three years.

"The sheriff and his staff are making the best of a bad situation. They're trying to make it work, but they're just reaching a point where there aren't a lot of options," said Malm.

In fact, Malm sees only one option.

"They need a new jail," said Malm. "That's the only solution I can personally see to that building.”

To do that the county needs money. It's tried three times before to pass a bond to pay for a new facility, each time falling short by less than a percent.

"Over 60 percent each time is in favor of passing a bond to do a jail, so that's what keeps us coming back to the board," said Howell.

The county commissioners decided last week to remove the bond measure from the November ballot, and plan to have it on the May ballot.

The Jerome County Jail isn't the only jail in the state to consistently fail annual inspections. There are about ten jails in the state that have failed the last three inspections.

The main jail in Gooding is the only jail in southern Idaho to fall into that category. Gooding’s annex passes the inspections. The rest of the failing jails are in northern and eastern Idaho.

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