Cache County jail filled beyond capacity; new facility needed
By Vicky Campbell
A jail sentence in Cache County may not necessarily result in jail time.
Cache County Sheriff G. Lynn Nelson said it all depends on whether or not there's "room at the inn." And currently there isn't.
"If we had 150 beds right now, we could fill them," Nelson said.
So, the county is looking to build a $20 million, 400-bed jail.
As of Wednesday there were 99 prisoners in Cache County's 70-bed facility.
And, according to information from the Sheriff's Office, during 1999 Cache County Jail's inmate population was never below the 70-person limit. In fact, since 1993 the average inmate population has increased by 42.4 percent.
When the number of prisoners exceeds its capacity, the jail has two options: to release those with the least serious offenses or ship them off to Box Elder County Jail and pay $43 a day for it to house them, Nelson said.
While $43 may seem like a lot for a day in jail, it costs $63 per day for Cache County to house one prisoner in its facility, according to Nelson.
This is because of the structure of the facility, which was built in 1964 and remodeled in 1993, Nelson said.
Jails nowadays are built in a radial fashion with a guard post in the center so it only takes one deputy to guard several prisoners.
Box Elder County Jail, for example, has 140 beds and uses almost the same number of deputies as Cache County Jail.
Although a new jail would be beneficial, the county has hit a few snags as far as building a new jail is concerned, Nelson said.
Firstly, it is convenient for the jail to be near the courthouse. Because the jail and courthouse are connected, prisoners never leave the building while being taken to court. This makes it easier for deputies to guard prisoners during transport.
Secondly, the property the jail and courthouse sit on is too small for such a large facility.
Thirdly, even if the property was big enough, the courthouse has been declared a historical monument and cannot be torn down.
One option, Nelson said, is to separate the courthouse and the jail. A new jail could be built on the west side of Logan, he said. However, prisoner transportation costs, which would vastly increase, should be factored into this option, he said.
There is also the problem of coming up with enough money, and the "fiscally conservative" Cache County Council doesn't want to raise taxes, Nelson said.
However, he said, once the facility is built it can rent out beds
like Box Elder does for $43 a day to help with costs.