GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) – The new detention center in Mesa County Jail will be opening its doors to inmates beginning Monday. The renovation, which began in February, will address a potentially dangerous overcrowding issue that existed in the old detention center.
“Over the years, our inmate populations fluctuates quite a bit,” said Mesa County Jail Division Captain Steve Farlow. “It peaked in 2010, and then for some reason, arrests across the state are up, and it’s now back up close to 400.”
At one point, Farlow said the holding area would have 30 to 40 people laying on the floor because there weren’t enough areas to house people.
The new facility will include two new holding cells which will separate inmates so not all are in the same room waiting to be booked. Farlow said this will improve the security risk.
“We only have one deputy that works in this area, so if you have to fingerprint somebody or pat somebody down, then you leave all those people unattended,” he said. “It’s a very significant possibility for something to happen.”
Along with two new holding cells, rooms for medical personnel and pre-trial staff have also been added.
Grace Farrell, Health Services Administrator for the jail, has to screen every person who enters the jail. Previously, the room she performed screenings in was so far away, it wasn’t visible by jail staff.
“This office is a lot closer to the officer station so if someone were to become agitated or angry, help is right there,” Farrell said.
Two new attorney meeting rooms were added as well. Attorney Steve Laiche said he and other lawyers always had issues meeting with clients due to the lack of meeting space.
Attorneys will also be able to use the new visiting center, equipped with video conference screens, to meet with clients. The new screens allow for up to 18 inmates at once to see with their respective visitors, as opposed to the maximum of nine inmates previously.
Donna Ross, Regional Services Director for Mesa County, said the project was estimated to cost $1.6 million, but came in $200,000 under budget.