GRAND JUNCTION — Overcrowding at the Mesa County Jail has some inmates sleeping on the floor, leaving county and state officials scrambling to find ways to make more room.
On June 19, the facility had 432 inmates and only 392 beds. On Sunday, there were 49 inmates sleeping on mattresses in the hallways in the booking wing.
"I've been doing this for 26 years, trying to figure out how this wave (of inmates) goes up and down. I don't know if it's taking longer for people to get through the system, or they're not able to bond out," said sheriff's department Capt. Steve Farlow.
As of Tuesday, 268 of 419 inmates were being held before trial on felony charges, while 42 were being held pretrial on misdemeanor charges, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (http://tinyurl.com/ndbw7mk ).
Last week, more than 20 Mesa County inmates awaiting transfer to the Colorado Department of Corrections were moved to the Park County Jail to relieve pressure on Mesa County.
Cells designed for one or two inmates have increasingly been double- or triple-bunked, Farlow said. Overcrowding also increases the possibility of violent confrontations, he said.
If the jail population gets too high, the county might have to send inmates waiting for space in Community Corrections to other county jails, Farlow said.
The Mesa County District Attorney's Office in 2012 reported a year-over-year rise in felony case filings. The system also saw a wave of new cases in April when a Mesa County grand jury returned indictments against 36 people as part of a drug investigation.
Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com