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Overcrowding issues

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 It's an issue many counties are dealing with, overcrowding in the jails. And it's an issue the Kootenai County commissioners say they've been trying to correct over the years with bond elections. 

"We have a chronic problem with overcrowding. In 2013, we spent more than 900 thousand dollars to send inmates out of county to find housing," said county commissioner Dan Green. 

According to Green, the county can no longer afford to avoid this problem, saying it's the county's biggest liability for getting sued. The factors contributing to the liability is what deputies call a change in the inmate demographic. 

Inmates, when brought in, are categorized based on crime, allegations, and even gang affiliation. So deputies don't want to put an inmate in a cell where it might insight violence. However, in a jail fit to house 327 inmates but actually sees more than 370 inmates on a daily basis, finding the right spot for an inmate can be a problem. 

"That's a lot of the problem, not necessarily having bed space, but finding the appropriate bed space for the appropriate inmate," said Sergeant Kyle Hutchison. 

With the help of the sheriff's office, county commissioners are in talks with Rocky Mountain Corrections to have a jail built in Kootenai county that the sheriff's department would rent, like a commercial building, and run.

The building is being designed by the sheriff's department to fit the county commissioner's budget. And with more than 600 beds, it will add some relief to the sheriff's office and the overall cost of running a jail. 

"I actually think by renting out the facility, we could actually lower our current operating expense of running a jail by upwards of a million dollars a year," said Green. 

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