GOODING — After being closing for about 10 years, the Gooding County Sheriff’s Office is reopening a jail annex to house additional inmates.
Sheriff Shaun Gough said reopening this annex will open up 30 beds on top of the 21 at the county’s existing jail. This extra space is needed after last winter when, at one point, there were 11 inmates sleeping on the jail floor.
The number of people in the jail has since decreased, and on April 15, the county had one bed available. But that one bed can be filled quickly, Gough said.
Reopening the annex also opens up beds for other nearby counties dealing with overcrowding issues, such as Twin Falls, which completed a jail expansion last winter to deal with some of its own population problems.
“We had (the annex) open for several years,” Gough said, “but there came a time where was a shortage of inmates and we decided to close it. But now there seems to be no shortage of inmates and we need the space.”
During a meeting on April 12, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners voted to opt of its existing contract to house inmates at the Jerome County jail and to instead house inmates at Gooding County.
Sheriff Rene King told commissioners that under the contract with Jerome County, his office paid for three beds to be reserved at all times. Because of this, even if Lincoln County did not have inmates to fill all the beds, it was still required to pay for them.
King said the county will not have to sign such a contract with Gough’s office. Lincoln County will only pay for the beds it uses.
Gough said his office will charge other counties $65 a day per bed to house inmates in the annex. Aside from Lincoln, his office has already heard from Twin Falls and Camas counties.
According to minutes from the Gooding County Board of Commissioners meeting on March 29, the county has received about $104,000 in COVID-19 relief funding from the federal government to assist with the reopening.
About $45,000 will be used to buy and update equipment for the annex. The remaining funds will go toward the cost of hiring the eight deputies needed to run the annex.
“We have enough grant money to get rid of the mothballs and re-equip the annex at no cost,” Gough said.
This grant funding will only go toward initial expenses. Afterward, the county will have to cover the roughly $1 million it to costs run the annex. Some of these expenses will be covered by the fees other counties pay to house their inmates.
Gough said his office will start hiring staff for the jail annex in August with the intention of opening the facility in October.
In this Series
- 25 updates