COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo — A new record at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center is causing a lot of problems.
They now have more inmates in the jail than ever before.
They have a total of 1,729 beds.
Right now, 1,603 are filled with a criminal.
The difference of 126 beds may sound like a good enough cushion, but they have a lot less beds than that, because you can’t put a repeat violent offender with someone who doesn’t pose a threat.
Imagine going on a road trip with your friends in a packed car.
After a while the other people might start to get on your nerves.
That’s exactly what’s going inside the CJC, but instead of being able to take a pit stop and walk around, like on a road trip; inside jail they don’t have that option, so tempers boil over.
Lt. Bill Huffor’s been at the CJC for 13 years.
He said this overcrowding can’t be over looked.
“The way I think of this jail is like a small city. Any time the population goes up you notice,” said Huffor.
It’s as big of a change for deputies as it is for criminals.
“Inmates, a lot of times, prefer to live comfortably, if there is such a thing inside the jail, and when their living space gets more confined tempers flare a little bit more. There’s more disruption,” said Huffor.
With overcrowding also comes special management inmates that gobble up resources.
“Any time that cell door opens we have several inmates like that that require there to be 2 to 3 deputies present. As inmate population goes up we get a lot more of these inmates,” said Huffor.
The problem of overcrowding at the CJC is a big one, but the sheriff doesn’t think more cells is the solution.
“We are looking at every option before we go right to, ‘oh, we need to build a new jail.’ that’s an expensive move when we think we can be a lot more conservative with how we work through some of these things,” said El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder.
It’s not a problem they can tackle by themselves.
“I think this is a community problem. When people violate the law and they have to do jail time that something that we have to adapt to,” said Huffor.
One possible solution to the problem is moving inmates to their final destination of prison.
Right now, there are 84 criminals waiting for a cell with the DOC.
They’re also trying to give the inmates more recreation time, so they can blow off steam instead of starting fights.