Task Force to address Pueblo jail problems

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PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) - Pueblo County has spent more than $1 million in unanticipated, over-budget, infrastructure failures.

As the jail is 145 percent above capacity, detention deputies’ safety has been put at risk and is exacerbating the overall aging conditions of the jail.

"Originally the capacity of the jail is 509 so today our count is 771 minus 30 because we have 30 out of pocket in other facilities that we are paying," said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor.

Press were given a rare opportunity to be led through the deteriorating Pueblo County Detention Center on Wednesday by Taylor and Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz. Ortiz is the leader of the recently formed Pueblo County Jail Task Force.

Ortiz began working to form the task force in the first few weeks after being sworn in as county commissioner.

“I am humbled by the current conditions. The great lengths that Pueblo County Sheriff’s deputies and Pueblo County Facilities employees have to go to just keep the jail operating are outstanding. As an elected official, I owe it to our taxpayers and county employees working in the detention center to look at the most cost-effective options to address our aging infrastructure at the jail. There has been much informal discussion about the issue, but now it’s time to take action and that’s why I formed this task force," Ortiz said.

Commissioner Ortiz and Sheriff Taylor showed the press:
· Showers, sinks, toilets and other infrastructure needs in the Dorm D (Trustee dorm).
· Leaking walls and ceilings on the third floor of the jail, where there are concerns about temperature control and overcrowding.
· Additional places on the fourth floor where there is leaking infrastructure as well as a triple-bunking situation.
· The fifth floor indoor recreation area and direct supervision area, which is a result of overflow from Fourth Floor.
· Overcrowding on the Fifth Floor.
· The jail intake area.

The Pueblo County Jail Task Force met for the first time on Friday, March 17. The task force will be studying the current conditions and operations of the jail. They will deliver a comprehensive report in the summer of 2017 that will recommend a short and long-term solution to address the Pueblo County Jail’s problems.

The task force is comprised of 30 members and includes representatives from county and city entities, members of the sheriff's office, local business and company owners, representatives from local hospitals and citizens.

The Pueblo County Jail Task Force will have five meetings on a monthly basis.

There are five subcommittees that will meet intermittently.

Due to security concerns, the task force’s meetings will not be open to the public.

However, the task force plans to post any releasable information on www.pueblocountyorg/TBD.