Crime leaves county with large bill


ALAMOSA — Four different bids were opened at a special Alamosa County Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, each totaling more than $10 million for the detention center expansion and jail remodel. The commissioners also granted Alamosa County Sheriff Robert Jackson the authority to turn away municipal inmates to save money.

Alamosa County Commissioner Darius Allen opened the bids and Alamosa County Administrator Gigi Dennis, Alamosa County Attorney Jason Kelly and Larry Schreiner of Sage Constructors verified them.

Van Iwaarden Builders Inc.'s bid was opened first. Their base bid was $9,531,570. If the project was to include a holding cell addition and interior modifications to areas such as the office break room, booking, medical cells, reception and entry areas then the total would be $10,391,010. The bid states that it would take 548 days to complete it, including the additions.

HW Houston Construction's base bid was $10,600,000. Including the alternate additions raises the cost to $11,426,000. The estimated time to finish would be from 520 to 550 days.

At $9,965,000, FCI Constructors Inc.'s base bid was cheaper. It would cost $11,028,000 and take 560 days if the additions were included.

Lastly Jaynes Corporation's base bid was $10,120,000 and increased to $11,048,000 after the additions. They estimate that the project will take 510 days.

A final decision on the bids will be made at the next meeting on April 12.

"We're a little over budget," Schreiner said.

Afterwards Jackson reported on the state of the jail. The county was responsible for a total of 159 inmates, with 95 housed onsite and 64 housed in other jails, that day.

"At $45 a day per inmate that's around $90,000 a month," Kelly said. "We're in kind of a serious situation right now."

Inmates on municipal holds occupied an estimated 10 beds. The county wishes to not house those municipal inmates so that less would be sent elsewhere.

"The statutes that I reviewed said that the municipal judge has the authority to sentence them at a county jail and use the county jail with the consent of the board of the county commissioners," said Kelly.

"When Sheriff Jackson mentioned that to Municipal Judge Powell, some statements were made with regards to holding Jackson in contempt of court. Which I don't think was appropriate or even that he has the authority to do so."

Kelly gave an example of an inmate that's being held almost a month longer than they should be.

"There's an individual currently in jail that the district court judge ordered that he could go to inpatient treatment in lieu of jail as soon as there was a bed date," said Kelly. "That was on February 22. A bed date became available on March 10 and he's still in our jail because there's a municipal hold on him."

Alamosa County Commissioner Michael Yohn wondered if the city could enter an intergovernmental agreement with another county so that they would be housed elsewhere. Yohn cited public safety as a reason to not turn them away.

Jackson stated that the public wouldn't be in danger.

"It's my understanding that most of those are nonviolent," Jackson said. "The worst-case scenario is that they're shoplifters and things like that. Some of them are failure to appear warrants. There are no felony cases at all."

After a vote, the commissioners unanimously delegated the authority to reject municipal inmates to Jackson.

"I think it should be our sheriff’s call," Allen said. "He's right there and knows what's going on daily."

There is also an issue of the city paying the county. Alamosa County Chief Financial Officer Brittney DeHerrera stated that bills went out to the city each month since November. DeHerrera was told Wednesday morning that the November, December, and January payments are now inbound.

"They will only pay for an inmate that is on municipal charges only," DeHerrera said. "If they have municipal and county charges the city won't pay.”

The county is currently charging the city $63.53 a day per inmate.

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