SUPERIOR- Mineral County commissioners closed the county jail on Friday after safety concerns arose over the diminishing number of detention officers.
In a video of Friday’s county commission meeting, Mineral County Attorney Ellen Donahue says one of the detention officers had walked out on the job Thursday night, leaving just two remaining.
The jail houses up to 28 inmates and all of the inmates are being transported to other holding facilities.
Not all of the inmates are Mineral County arrests and the county is paid $60 per day per inmate to house prisoners from places like Montana State Prison.
Mineral County Sheriff Tom Bauer says between poor pay and difficult hours, attracting and retaining employees has been difficult.
“They don’t get paid well. We have had applications out, we’ve been short staffed for a long time, several months, and we have had people apply, and once they look at the starting wage and the wage they will get, they’re like, ‘I’m not going to do this for that wage,” Sheriff Bauer told MTN News.
Sheriff Bauer said they will continue to make necessary arrests and use the jail to temporarily hold Mineral County inmates until they can be transferred elsewhere to be housed. The county will have to pay to house their inmates held elsewhere.
Mineral County commissioners did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday. Sheriff Bauer says they will be meeting again with the commissioners this week, and hope to reopen the jail at some point.
-Augusta McDonnell reporting for MTN News