Location: SCR 352
County Courthouses and Jails: Overview from the Counties
COUNTY COURTHOUSE AND COUNTY JAIL FUNDING AND OVERCROWDING SOLUTIONS
01:23 PM -- County Courthouses and Jails: Overview from the Counties
Darius Allen, Alamosa County Board of Commissioners, provided an overview of courthouse funding and overcrowded jails in his county and distributed a handout from Colorado Counties, Inc., on these topics (Attachment A). Mr. Allen explained that his county needs to contract with other county jails to house overflow inmates, and this is costing the county a half million dollars a year in reimbursement and transportation. Other increasing jail costs include: pre-trial tracking, health care, and prescription drugs. Mr. Allen also mentioned there is a high demand for drug and alcohol treatment and mental health services. Further, Mr. Allen discussed sentencing and staffing issues in the district attorney's office and the work release program. He answered questions from the committee about occupancy standards, Department of Corrections (DOC) inmates, illegal substances, reimbursements, demographics, and mental health assessments.
Nancy Jackson, Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners, discussed jails and courthouses in her county and distributed a handout regarding a recent public safety system assessment (Attachment B). Ms. Jackson explained that courthouses across the state are outdated and in need of repair. She further emphasized that funding is not keeping pace with growth and discussed the county jail and the inmate population. She noted the success of diversion programs in managing jail populations, but stressed there is a need for mental health services and substance abuse treatment as well. Ms. Jackson invited the committee to tour the Arapahoe County Jail and Justice Center. She answered questions from the committee about parole board delays, DOC inmates, and substance abuse.
Rose Pugliese, Mesa County Board of Commissioners, discussed jails and the courthouse funding structure in the state. She expressed frustration that the state makes court-related decisions and then expects the counties to pay. She also discussed jail overcrowding issues and the need to contract with other counties to house overflow inmates. She explained that the jail population in Mesa County was better managed using work release programs, risk assessments, and evidence-based decision making, but those alternatives are not widely used at the moment. The lack of mental health facilities was also explained. She answered questions from the committee about the pre-trial population, work release programs, and DOC inmates. Commissioner Pugliese responded that DOC has been responsive about moving inmates awaiting transfer to prison.
Terry Hart, Pueblo County Board of Commissioners, discussed the state and county relationship and unfunded mandates in relation to courthouses. He explained that Pueblo County recently built a new courthouse and recommended that state tenants pay a portion of the rent to offset costs. Commissioner Hart also discussed jail overcrowding, lack of substance abuse and mental health services for inmates, violent offenders in jails, sentencing reform, and inmate access to Medicaid. He further suggested that counties across the state compile and share their best practices regarding pre-trial and other jail overcrowding issues (i.e., diversion programs). He answered questions about the impact of state funds, crisis response practices, illegal substance abuse, and prescription drug use. Discussion ensued about inmate demographics and illegal substances, and Representative Beckman expressed interest in obtaining information from counties about the relationship between the two.