BOISE – Seven years after the American Civil Liberties Union sued over overcrowding and other conditions, an Idaho jail is no longer required to have federal oversight.
The Canyon County Jail has been overseen by a federal court since the lawsuit over what ACLU called “indecent, cruel and inhumane” conditions there, reported the Idaho Statesman.
Sheriff Kieran Donahue announced Monday that the county has now been given the go-ahead from the courts and ACLU to forgo that oversight.
“It’s a big day for us. It’s a huge day for this county,” he said at a morning news conference. “This has been a long journey. And we’re incredibly proud to reach this milestone.”
The county implemented new policies, including a cap of 477 inmates, and upgraded ventilation and plumbing.
Stephen Pevar, ACLU’s lead counsel on the case, told the paper that the lawsuit ended up being a win-win because it pushed the county to improve its jail.
“They’ve come a long way. If you compare the complaint in the case, which showed there were dozens of people sleeping on the floors, it was just a pit. Mold was everywhere, the sanitation was unhealthy, plumbing was terrible,” he said. “They did a good job.”
Capt. Daren Ward, the jail commander, said ending court oversight won’t change much day-to-day at the jail. He said the only change to the routine will be that deputies will no longer have to test shower water temperatures three times a day.
Ward said the water temperature is now well-managed after work with the maintenance staff.
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