County jail would be costly to close

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I am writing this letter as a concerned resident and (future) taxpayer of Mineral County. There is a good possibility that our local jail may close permanently unless some solutions to long-term problems can be found.

One of the reasons many of us live in Mineral County is because it is a safe place to raise our families. Should the jail close, the safety we enjoy now could be severely threatened.

If the jail should close, our prisoners would have to be sent to jails in other counties. This option creates several problems including potentially increased overall costs; transportion issues, lack of space in other jails resulting in prisoners being placed in several different locations, and a tremendous inconvenience for both our Justice and District Courts, as well as the attorneys and families of the prisoners.

Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office does not always have sufficient personnel to transport our prisoners back and forth to other locations, leaving the possibility of our officers not being available should they be needed locally.

Lastly, regarding costs - housing prisoners in other jails costs a minimum of $70 per day and our jail population count has been running an average of 10 inmates per day. This is a huge expense to the county.

In order to keep our jail functioning, several problems must be addressed, including a low pay scale, safety issues involving both staff and prisoners, and a lack of qualified applicants to actually staff the facility.

These are not new issues and have resulted in the current closure as well as a short-term closure in the past, when a committee was formed to address the situation. Unfortunately, even with input from the committee and some changes being made, we are now again in the same situation.

We need to work together to come up with solutions that ensures that our jail stays open.

This matter is on the agenda for the meeting of the Mineral County Commissioners on Friday, April 12 at 10 a.m. Please come and share any input an/or concerns that you may have.

— Diane Magone, Superior

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