Commissioners repeal jail cap

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Some city officials say they were pleased with a sweeping resolution that will repeal the county’s jail cap and associated inmate fee system but will wait to see what the Sheriff’s Office will do over the next few weeks.

The move, which was unanimously approved without discussion by the Adams County commissioners during their April 15 meeting, rescinded the caps placed on the number of inmates who can be sent by cities to the county jail and the $45 daily fee assessed to cities who exceeded allotted caps.

“I’m very encouraged that the commissioners acknowledge that municipalities and the county have a genuine need for municipal inmates to be in the county jail,” Ward 3 City Councilwoman Beth Humenik said.

“However, to the best of my knowledge, the sheriff’s position has not changed. It is my understanding that the sheriff will have an announcement coming out soon so we are waiting to hear what the sheriff’s response will be.”

The cap restrictions, which began on Jan. 1, 2012, previously stood at 30 and was divided among nine municipalities based on their population in Adams County.

The caps, set by Sheriff Doug Darr, were as follows: Thornton, eight; Westminster, five; Aurora and Commerce City, four apiece; Northglenn and Brighton, three each; and one each for Federal Heights, Arvada and Bennett.

The commissioners later approved a resolution in October 2012 to double the initial soft jail cap to 60, waive all cap-related fees incurred by the municipalities beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, and allow the Sheriff’s Office to 13 certified deputies to ease staffing crunches.

But efforts to pass the measures were delayed twice — once in December 2012 and again in January 2013.

“The repeal is a great deal for us and all the surrounding cities in Adams County,” Northglenn Ward I City Councilman Wayne Dodge said.

“Everything is about money. I know his (Darr) issue is money and our issue is money, but when you keep pushing it downhill our way, it affects everyone downhill.”

The move also came on the heels of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee’s recommendation “to staff a total of 1,255 beds, located in a total of eight dorms, in an effort to alleviate, to the degree possible, the jail-wide bed shortage including the existing municipal court bed cap issue.”

The committee, which was established in September 2011 by the commissioners, began meeting in May 2012 and are tasked with resolving staffing and management issues in the jail.

“It is thought, with reasonable expectation, that staffing for the 1,255 beds would provide all jurisdictions more available jail beds,” Adams County District Court Judge and Committee Chair C. Vincent Phelps said in an April 15 letter addressed to the Commissioners.