JEROME • “We got it.”
Jerome County Sheriff Doug McFall could finally say Tuesday night that there will be a new jail in Jerome County.
After five tries, voters in Jerome have approved funding for a new jail.
Voters passed the $11.2 million bond by 70.8 percent.
On Tuesday night, McFall didn’t have many words, but said he had a lot of calls to make to people who helped the bond pass.
“I’m ecstatic,” Jerome County Commissioner Charlie Howell said.
Howell gave credit to the bond passing to the citizens committee who passed out fliers and helped raise awareness of the problems in the jail.
“That’s what took it over the top,” he said. “The people that got involved. That’s what it takes.”
Howell said he looked forward to the challenge of building the jail and sending out requests for proposals to get the process of building the jail started.
Jerome County first asked residents for funding for a new jail in 2009, but was turned down by a tiny margin. Since then, while more than half of voters have approved of the funding, the county had not been able to make the two-thirds supermajority required to pass the bond.
McFall has long said that the aging jail, built in 1974, needs to be replaced for the safety of inmates and jail staff alike. Issues like sewage coming up through drains and electrical wiring problems plague the jail, he’s said, adding that the narrow hallways aren’t safe for staff and that the jail doesn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilties Act.
McFall and jail administrator Lt. Dan Kennedy have said that the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program could decide to reduce the amount of insurance available to the jail. If a liability claim goes above the $500,000 minimum, Kennedy said, it would come out of the general fund for Jerome County.
Without funding for a new facility, McFall and Kennedy said they would continue to run the jail as best they can for as long as they can.