Asotin County Jail Facing Internal Problems


The Asotin County Jail is over four decades old, and some people who work there say, it's become dangerous. The Asotin County Commissioners held a town hall meeting yesterday to receive feedback on ways to solve problems at the jail.

Jail staff say there are many issues such as understaffing, overcrowding, and small housing units for inmates. Doctor Dennis Mountjoy is a physician at the jail, and he says the issues with the jail aren't just with its employees.

"51 inmates on that particular day, 25 of whom are on psycho-active medications. There is nothing in the jail to accommodate a mentally ill inmate," he says.

Jail Commander Jim Smith says often times he isn't able to have the appropriate number of jail deputies on the floor. Asotin County residents at the meeting know something needs to be done to support their law enforcement officers.

"We're a small community. We don't have the luxuries for an aquatic center. I've said it before. Let's look at this. Let's get a focus group on this project," said one resident.

Sheriff John Hilderbrand says the problem all comes back to money, and that changes must be made to keep staff and inmates safe for decades to come. Right now the jail is capped out at 47 inmates, with six more at other facilities. There are currently only 13 jail deputies, and that number hasn't been at capacity for years. The commissioners are in favor of putting together a group made up of citizens and jail staff to find ways to solve the jail problems.

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