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Jerome Jail

The construction site of the new Jerome County Jail on Feb. 29.

JEROME — The public will get a chance to take an inside look at the new Jerome County Jail before it opens.

The Jerome Chamber of Commerce is hosting a ribbon cutting at the new facility at 2 p.m. Friday, followed by an open house running from 2 to 8 p.m.

The new jail is at 2151 South Tiger Drive, next to Idaho Milk Products.

Inmates will be moved to the new jail over the weekend, Sheriff Doug McFall said. The sheriff’s office and driver's license office will be open for business in their new location on Monday morning.

The county had about 51 inmates Wednesday, McFall said.

The 135-bed facility was built with an $11.2 million bond county voters passed in May 2013. Most of the construction was finished in late May, but the opening was delayed a bit because the backup generator had to be in place to get an occupancy permit.

With a jail population that usually ranges from 40 to 80 inmates, the new jail gives the county enough space to let out beds either to the state or to other counties. However, that’s not going to happen immediately. Jerome County doesn’t have any agreements to board inmates in place with any other counties as of now, McFall said, and the state won’t send anyone over right now since the state inmate population has fallen and it doesn’t need the extra beds at the moment.

“The state’s kind of on hold right now because their count went down,” McFall said. “(We) haven’t heard when the state’s planning on bringing inmates over.”

There are 7,721 people in the Idaho state prison system as of Wednesday, IDOC spokesman Jeffrey Ray said, of whom 447 are boarded in county jails. That 7,721 is a drop of several hundred from last July, and a few months ago, the state brought the inmates it had boarded out of state back to Idaho.

The state pays counties $45 per bed per night to board inmates. Ray said he didn’t know when, or if, the state would be sending inmates to Jerome.

“Our inmate population fluctuates to such a degree that it’s impossible for us to speculate about whether or not we’ll be moving inmates into the Jerome County jail, or any jail, in the near future,” Ray said in an email.

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