‘At some point we need to take action’ on space issues at county jail and courthouse

In this photo, a cot is set up on the right side of the room to accommodate an extra inmate. The Payette County Jail uses the cots when beyond its 70-bed capacity, which it reaches on an average of every day now.

PAYETTE — With the capacity to house up to 72 inmates, and a current roster of 58, the Payette County Jail is taking precautions to avoid a potential spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Payette County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Creech offered a statement via email on Thursday afternoon in response to the ongoing public health crisis related to COVID-19.

“We have implemented the IDOC pre-screening. We are pre-screening all new inmates before they enter the jail facility,” Creech wrote. “The process includes asking each person a list of questions to determine if they may have been in areas where COVID-19 is located or if they have had contact with someone who has had a confirmed case of COVID-19. It also asks if they are having any of the symptoms that are common with the COVID-19.”

There is also a limit to visitation, making sure there is no more than 10 people in the lobby at any one time, making the jail in line with order issued by President Donald Trump earlier in the week. Attorney visits are unaffected.

The jail has also cancelled “outside programming” which includes church and support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Creech added that Payette County Magistrate Court Judge Robert Jackson had issued a book and release order for all Payette County warrants that are for “failing to appear for a fine review hearing.”

The jail administration, along with the Payette County Prosecutor’s office and the magistrate judges are currently reviewing all of the current inmates and incoming cases to “determine the level of risk the individual posts to public safety if they were released.

The bed space in the jail is a concern. Having additional capacity available will allow us the opportunity to separate our population into different areas of the facility.

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