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County wants city to pay more for inmates

By Michelle San Miguel, Multimedia Journalist - Pueblo Chieftain Bureau/Telemundo Anchor, michelle.sanmiguel@krdo.com
Published On: Apr 02 2013 10:42:26 PM CDT

County wants city to pay more for inmates

PUEBLO, Colo. -

Space is very tight at the Pueblo County Jail. It's already over capacity by more than 100 convicts. The county owns the jail, but the city uses it too. Now county leaders say it's time for the city to start paying more.

It cost $72 a day to keep an inmate behind bars. The city is paying the county $31 a day to keep each inmate locked up. The city has been paying that amount since 1988.

"Costs have gone up a lot in those 25 years," said Sal Pace, Pueblo county commissioner.

Both city and county leaders agree the problem is not just that the jail's overcrowded. It's that there's just one detox center in Pueblo.

"There's only 10 beds in that detox and the reality is that we could easily quadruple the number of beds and still fill the detox center," said Luis Velez, Pueblo police chief.

Pueblo county commissioners told City Council Thursday they want the city to start paying $45 a day per inmate brought in by the city.

"It's certainly possible that we could look at this money to go toward a detox center so that we're not sending low-risk offenders to highly-used prison jail beds that need be reserved for our most dangerous offenders," Pace said.

Pace says the money would also go toward making repairs at the jail- a jail that was initially built for hundreds less than it's now housing.

There's another problem brewing. Velez says the city and county need to come to terms on where to put low-risk intoxicated offenders. The county is not allowing jail employees to watch over them.

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