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BOISE -- While driving down the Connector, you may have thought, What in the world are they building at the Ada County Jail? And, how much is it costing me?

The focus of that jail expansion is to improve safety, and they're using funds already saved up by Ada County.

The expansion won't actually expand the footprint of the jail. It will add 88 beds and 44 cells by building over most of what was a recreation area.

This is considered hard space, says Deputy Joe Cormier. So, it's more of your higher level inmates, the inmates that have had prior issues, or issues while they are in custody.

Jail managers say they've allowed more low-level offenders to be out of custody to save money. But they say that means there's now, overall, a very different inmate population in custody.

That's left a harder, more serious, more violent population in the jail, said Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney. We've got 35 really high-risk inmates, 19 who are in protective custody, 85 who are chronically mentally ill, 13 gang members, and 21 registered sex offenders.

Raney says the expansion allows them to separate those inmates when needed, reduces violence, and keeps deputies and inmates safer.

So, between all of those different populations, whether it be violence, whether it be mental illness, whether it be that they need protective custody, they may just need what I call adult timeout, this is what's going to help us manage that population well and help keep the liability claims down, and keep the violence down so that our staff is safe [and] the other inmates are safe, said Raney.

Speaking of the liability claims, the sheriff says just one claim can cost $1 million in medical and court fees. The entire jail expansion costs $4.6 million.

Again, the funding for this is coming from a capital fund, so no bond will be needed to pay for this, and taxes won't go up. The expansion should be completed next year.

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