Ravalli County Jail ‘Full to Overflowing,’ Unprecedented Number of Female Inmates
On Monday night, May 9, the Ravalli County Jail housed 81 people in a facility built to hold just 75. Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman says the jail, like many in Montana, is full to overflowing. But to him, the biggest surprise recently has been the number of women entering the jail.
"When we built that facility we built it with the expectation of holding no more than maybe six to eight females, so we've had to flip-flop some of our population in order to be able to keep up with the trend we've been seeing," Hoffman said. " Well right now were up over twenty that was the last, the last count, at least that was the last count I had from our detention center commander"
In the last six years, Ravalli County decided to shut down its juvenile detention center, which is being turned into a clinic for the nurses that see patients from the adult jail. At the time, the juvenile detention center was shuttered, juveniles could easily be sent to facilities nearby in western Montana.
"Now Missoula is closed, they have no more beds for us," Hoffman said. "Flathead County Jail had overcrowding issues and they Sheriff there had to shut down the juvenile facilities in order to house all of the adults. Other facilities out of state closed one-by one to the point that the last couple juveniles we've had to detain, we've had to take to Great falls."
Ravalli County's difficulties with jail overcrowding are unlikely to end any time soon. Jails across the state are filled on a regular basis with many communities citing a rise in methamphetamine use as the cause.