Crowded Jail Imposes More Booking Restrictions

Crowded Jail Imposes More Booking Restrictions

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Salt Lake County Jail officials have again raised the inmate entrance requirements for the crowded facility.

"We've actually had booking restrictions in place since last May," said the sheriff's chief deputy, Rollin Cook. "What's happened is we've had to tighten them up even more. We're trying to manage that population the best we can."

The jail has 2,000 beds -- 1,696 for men and 304 for women. But its average daily population in March was 2,085, Cook said.

In late April, the jail instituted the restrictions to curb the influx of inmates.

"It still allows for the very worst to go to jail," Cook said.

For a woman to be booked into the jail, she would have to be sentenced for a crime or be charged with a felony, a violation of a protective order, domestic violence or a DUI.

Women charged with misdemeanors, such as battery, assault, lewdness with a child or negligent homicide, or arrested on misdemeanor warrants will no longer be booked into jail.

Men will not be booked on warrants unless they have three warrants outstanding, at least one warrant exceeds $1,500 bail or the warrant is from another state that will extradite.

In addition, some inmates are being released early into community-based programs.

Cook said the jail officials meet regularly with attorneys to review lists of potential candidates who have served most of their sentences.

The jail has been crowded since it opened in January 2000, and the conditions have gotten worse.

Sheriff Aaron Kennard is expected to ask the County Council to reopen the Oxbow Jail in three phases.

Patrick Fleming, director of the county's substance abuse division, wants to open the mental-health wing of Oxbow to operate as a receiving center for drug offenders.

Meanwhile, a Criminal Justice Advisory Council committee is brainstorming alternatives to incarceration, said Ron Gordon, council coordinator.

One option is a day-reporting center that would provide offenders with supervision, outpatient substance abuse treatment and job training and employment skills.

"One thing that everybody seems to agree on is there is a bigger demand for substance abuse treatment programs than there is availability," Gordon said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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