Delaware County Commissioners continue to work on solutions to the jail overcrowding problem, including the possibility of allowing prisoners to work at the county barns, overnight releases of prisoners using ankle bracelets, and making requests for Stimulus money and other funding.
The group has also made overtures to the Cherokee Nation for funds from the U.S Justice Department, which has $225 million available for jail construction to tribal entities on tribal lands.
At a January 23 Commissioners meeting, according to the approved minutes, the Commissioners discussed the "possibility to run a County Survey in newspapers for the Public to select what prisoners to release and DA office to contact Dept. of Health with this plan."
Nothing more has come of this, which probably wasn't a good idea," said District 1 Commissioner Ken Crowder, who was not present at the Jan. 23 meeting. "But we are continuing to work to solve the overcrowding problem. It isn't going to ever go away."
He said the county is growing at a steady rate of 8% per year with an expected population of 42,890 in 2011.
"If we opened a new jail today we could fill 125 beds immediately," he said.
Voters last year turned down two solutions involving sales tax increases, to fund a new 228-bed jail. The current jail holds 61 prisoners and is continually overcrowded.
"Our judges are working overtime to keep the jail population down," Crowder said. "Judge Littlefield's Drug Court is an outstanding example of this and she works really hard on this program. If not for the drug court, we would have 50-60 extra prisoners in jail every day."