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No Vacancy No Option For Sheriff

Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputy Josh Dunne works at a monitoring station Monday during his shift at the jail in Coeur d’Alene. Overcrowding has put a strain on the facility’s resources, prompting the sheriff to seek a solution that included a proposal for new jail. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Shawn Gust)

Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger said he can't put a "No Vacancy" sign in front of the jail. He has to find a bed for everyone who needs to be there each day. "(The law) says the sheriff shall accept all prisoners," Wolfinger said. "So if the court sends me prisoners, I got to accept them." If a local law enforcement agency brings someone in, Wolfinger takes them. He doesn't have enough beds, and it's a problem that's nothing new. The original portion of the current jail was built in 1987, and 13 years later an expansion was approved by voters - increasing the size of the jail from 127 beds to 327 beds, Wolfinger said. "Yesterday's total of inmates was 365," the sheriff said Monday, taking a Press reporter on a tour of the facility/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: It has been obvious for quite awhile that we need to expand the jail. But there's no sentiment to do so, as far as I can tell. I don't think people care that prisoners may be a little uncomfortable packed like sardines in the jail. What do you think?


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D.F. Oliveria
D.F. (Dave) Oliveria joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a columnist and compiles the Huckleberries Online blog and writes about North Idaho in his Huckleberries column.

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