County considers jail space rent

News editor

Marion County Commission Chairman Randy Dallke asked Sheriff Rob Craft on Tuesday whether it was time to think about renting space in the new county jail to other counties.

The question came after Craft told the commission that his staff is getting well accustomed to how the new facility works and that there are 10 to 15 beds empty most of the time.

Craft said he worried whether one jailer overnight would be enough to handle all that needs done if more inmates were added. Booking inmates in and bonding them out doesn’t stop at the close of office hours.

Commissioners asked if the sheriff could prohibit people from bonding out late at night, except in the case of people who had just been booked. That would reduce some of the overnight workload, making a single jailer with more inmates more feasible.

Craft said he would have to check the legalities of such a plan, but if it was permissible, he could see adding up to 10 extra inmates. He would prefer including some women among additional inmates, to get more use out of the women’s section of the jail. It is large enough to house eight inmates, so if there is only one woman in the jail, seven beds go unused.

The number of inmates in the jail has stayed relatively steady compared to a year ago, with 10 to 12 inmates most of the time. Booking numbers are up, Craft said, but many inmates are in and out of jail faster. Last week, 22 inmates spent time in the jail.

The commission approved the purchase of a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado for the Sheriff’s Department at a cost of $23,326. The pickup will replace a patrol vehicle with about 160,000 miles on it; that vehicle will in turn be used for patrol at the reservoir during the summer, replacing a truck that is on its last legs.

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