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Decades-old Arapahoe County jail 'pushed to its limits'

The Arapahoe County sheriff is pushing for a new jail. The facility currently houses about three times the number of inmates it was designed for.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — The Arapahoe County Sheriff is asking for funding to build a new jail because he said they're "pushing our current jail facility to its limits."

During a Facebook Live event on Wednesday morning, Sheriff Tyler Brown said for years the county has been spending 20% of its maintenance budget on the jail, but said the fixes were "only Band-Aids."

"The jail is crowded, space is tight," Brown said. "We lack the space to provide comprehensive services to a majority of the inmates."

A new facility to replace the existing one that was built in 1986 will cost about $465 million. The County Board of Commissioners has created a long-range planning committee to look into how the project would be funded, Brown said.

The design of the jail makes it difficult to expand, which is one reason they're pushing for a new one, Brown said.

"Our central facilities, which were designed for those 386 inmates, are landlocked by housing units here at the detention facility," Brown said. "So we can't expand on any of the things, like laundry, kitchen facility or our book-and-release center."

Here are some of the other reasons they're pushing for a new facility:

  • 18 cells designed for 29 inmates in the booking area routinely house 80 inmates in that area
  • Facility is designed to house 386 inmates — Wednesday morning, about 1,200 inmates were at the jail
  • Lack of space to provide programs for mental health and substance abuse issues
  • Kitchen built to feed three meals a day to 386 inmates routinely feeds 1,200 inmates each day

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