PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- On July 21, the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment announced the COVID-19 outbreak at the Pueblo County Jail had been officially resolved. Now, the jail might be facing an overcrowding issue.
During the pandemic, to curb an outbreak at the jail, a court order allowed law enforcement discretion in whether to arrest or issue citations for individuals involved in certain civil, traffic, or misdemeanor offenses. That allowed the sheriff's office to decrease the inmate population.
With that court order lifted, County Sheriff Kirk Taylor told the Chieftain he expects to reach a pre-pandemic capacity of more than 650 inmates housed at one time.
According to our news partners at the Pueblo Chieftain, the jail has a 509 inmate capacity. Just six days after the COVID-19 outbreak was declared over, the jail reached 508 inmates.
If overcrowding happens, the inmates will be given temporary beds to sleep in the overcrowded dormitories.
The Chieftain spoke with 10th Judicial District Attorney Jeff Chostner who said while he frequently hears about the jail's capacity issues, he won't let it impact how he or his attorneys choose to prosecute.
"My job is to make the community safer, and his responsibility is managing the jail population — two different responsibilities," Chostner explained. "It's a management issue for the sheriff to work out."
There is the possibility of transferring Pueblo's prisoners to other detention facilities, however, Chostner says that would add logistical issues and additional costs.
According to the Chieftain, the Pueblo Board of County Commissioners approved building a new jail in conjunction with extending Joe Martinez Blvd. The new jail would hold between 650 and 670 beds and would cost $115 million. Construction is set to begin in the fall of 2022.
To read the full story, visit the Chieftain here.