Pueblo County evaluates state of current jail, considers building a new one

WATCH: Pueblo County evaluates state of current jail, considers building a new one

PUEBLO, Colo. - Pueblo County is again considering options when it comes to its overcrowded and aging jail.

The topic has been discussed several times over several years, and county leaders say the situation is critical, and needs to be addressed.

The jail, built in the early 1970’s with an extension of dorms added later on. In all, the facility has about 500 official spots for inmates.

However, looking at the average rate of population today, the jail typically houses about 750 inmates. The extra inmates are double or triple bunked.

Commissioner Garrison Ortiz, who took office in January, says he’s made the jail a top priority. He helped create the Pueblo Jail Task Force this year.

Right now, a comprehensive study is being done on the current jail to figure out the best way to move forward.

Commissioner Ortiz says the best case scenario would be to build a brand new jail, and use the newer dorms added to the current jail as a detox and treatment facility.

However, that project would be $100 million or more, and the county would not be able to foot the bill without voters agreeing to help.

A ballot measure could go before voters in the fall, if the county chooses to pursue a new jail.

Ortiz and Sheriff Kirk Taylor agree that continued “band-aids” on the jail to keep it running are just temporary, and are also proving costly for the county.

There are also additional costs the jail is already facing because of lack of space. Some inmates that should be housed at the jail are having to be moved.

“W we are shipping them out to other jurisdictions that can hold them you are spending money. So you are spending taxpayer money to move prisoners in another jail,” said Sheriff Taylor.

A full assessment is expected to be completed and presented sometime over the next month. 

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