Residents in Shoshone County will decide whether to fund a $22 million bond for a new jail Nov. 5.
Shoshone County will ask its voters to approve a bond this November to build a new jail and public safety facility in the county. The new facility would feature nearly twice the floor space of the current jail, which would improve conditions and safety for both staff and inmates.
If passed, the bond would be paid for through property taxes, with an approximate $75 increase per year in taxes on a property valued at $100,000. The total cost of the bond would be $22,444,685
The current jail is approximately 18,000 square feet. If the bond is approved, Shoshone County officials would build the new facility to be roughly 32,000 square feet. The upgrade would allow the facility to house roughly twice as many inmates, increasing its bed space from 48 to 98 inmates, as well as a full 911 communication center.
Officials said that the county regularly books in more violators than it has bed space, and often has to pay to house inmates at out-of-county facilities. In addition, the current conditions at the jail make it difficult for jail workers to follow legally-required procedures and safety requirements, increasing the likelihood of a violation.
“The county jail is overpopulated in housing in current pods,” a release from the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office said. “Our general population pods can house approximately 20 inmates, and we are routinely at 28-plus inmates. This is true with all our pods; we are overpopulated in each block.”
In addition, officials said the building is in a state of disrepair, specifically pointing to ongoing issues with plumbing, electrical and structural integrity.
Sheriff Mike Gunderson said that, were the situation to continue, the jail could lose jail certification in Idaho. This would cause insurance premiums in the county to go up, and overall coverage of law enforcement to decrease.
To address the issue, the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office presented county commissioners with three options: replace the current facility with a new one for a cost of $22 million; replace the facility with an equivalent-sized facility for $20 million; or repair the current facility, without increasing space or improving safety features for $14 million. Only the $22 million option would address the overpopulation issue and meet Idaho jail standards.
The cost to taxpayers will be $75.79 per year on a $100,000 valued property. If the bond is passed, the Shoshone Board of County Commissioners have agreed to directly fund 60% of operating expenses directly back to the bond.
The bond will be on the ballot in Shoshone County Nov. 5.