Sheriff calls for changes after latest jail escapes, recapture

The sheriff expressed his frustration over the need for safety enhancements at the jail.

CALDWELL -- Two men who spent days on the run after breaking out of a low-security jail tent are back in custody, but problems for the Canyon County Jail are not over.

Jeffrey Duvall and Juan Cervantes were found at a home on Bighorn Way in Caldwell - just a few miles from the jail - on Tuesday afternoon. 

Cervantes' girlfriend, 24-year-old Korena Valencia, was also arrested and charged with felony harboring. Prosecutors say she let the fugitives hide out at her house for two days and lied to officers who were looking for the men.

The suspects' break-out marks the fourth escape from the Canyon County Jail in less than a year.

MORE: Debate over the future of the Canyon County jail ignites after fourth escape

In a news conference Wednesday morning, Sheriff Kieran Donahue said the jail tent in which Cervantes and Duvall had been housed was inadequate.

"There are tremendous weaknesses of a tent structure facility trying to hold inmates who don't want to be in there," he said. "It's a cloth fabric."

Donahue said the tent was built for a work-release program, but is now being used as a minimum security facility due to the number of inmates at the jail. Issues have plagued the structure since it transitioned over in 2011, he said.

RELATED: Canyon jail tent facility escapees arrested

According to Donahue, people charged with crimes like petit theft, failure to appear, or driving without privileges are typically not housed in the jail - they're out on bond or serving alternative sentences. Now, 75 percent of inmates deemed "minimum security" have felony records.

Both Duvall and Cervantes were accused of violating their felony probation. Duvall also faced charges of attempted strangulation and domestic battery with traumatic injury, while Cervantes had additional charges of DUI, driving without privileges and possession of a controlled substance.

Both men now face additional felony escape charges.

READ: Another escape at Canyon County Jail; search underway for 2 inmates

Donahue, who has long campaigned for a new jail that can hold more inmates, pointed the finger at the board of county commissioners for the inadequate facilities.

"We have presented numerous times to the current board of county commissioners regarding these issues, we have brought in the maintenance department... who has made advisements and suggestions to enhancing the security measures of that facility," he said. "It continues to fall upon deaf ears by the board of county commissioners."

Donahue said the county must make security changes in order to keep using the tent facility, such as putting up a second fence or building a "lid" over the top of the current fence to keep inmates from climbing over.

MORE: Neighbors concerned after inmates escape jail

Those changes have an estimated price tag of $50,000 - $60,000, and the sheriff predicted several commissioners will balk at greenlighting those measures.

Commissioners were not available for interviews Wednesday. A board meeting is set for Thursday morning to discuss the issues surrounding the jail.
 

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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