Saguache County Sheriff recommends closing jail

Photo of meeting by Mechel Meek

Staffing issues a major problem; Warwick looking at options

SAGUACHE — Saguache County Sheriff Dan Warwick told county commissioners that he does not have enough staff to keep the county jail open and is looking into an agreement with neighboring Alamosa County to house Saguache County’s inmates. The jail will remain open until Warwick can strike a deal.

On Tuesday, June 7, during the regular Saguache County Commissioners meeting, Sheriff Warwick outlined the ongoing problems with the Saguache County Jail, and why they will need to close the jail as soon as possible.

“At this point I am going to close the jail,” Warwick said. “I cannot staff my jail. I can’t staff it and keep it safe, not only for the staff but for the inmates.”

He said that the jail does not have adequate staff to continue to run safely and efficiently. At the current staffing level, there is only one jail deputy working at a time, and that person is also responsible for running the dispatch for the sheriff’s office road patrol.

Warwick said he was looking into the cost for Alamosa County to house the inmates for Saguache County.

Saguache Commissioner Lynne Thompson asked why staffing was such an issue for the Saguache County Jail.

Warwick responded that people do not want to come to work for the jail because of the low pay, lack of housing in the area and lack of amenities in Saguache.

“You can’t keep people here for $15 an hour,” Warwick said.

Warwick pointed out that all the other counties in the San Luis Valley pay jail deputies more than Saguache County. He also said that having employees perform both jail duties and dispatching duties was unsafe.

Sheriff Warwick was currently discussing the costs of housing the inmates in Alamosa County’s facility and what needs to be done to move all housing to that facility.

According to Warwick, transport costs will be challenging for both the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office and the Center Police Department as the departments will have to transport all inmates to Alamosa and then bring them back to Saguache for court dates.

The Saguache County Sheriff’s Office will continue to have a dispatch office in the current sheriff’s office building.

Sheriff Warwick said that he wants to do a 5-year contract with Alamosa County to house inmates.

The plan would be to eventually have a new jail facility built in Saguache County and that this would buy the county time to decide on an area for the facility and to complete construction.

Over the past few months, the county has been unable to find a suitable location to build a jail facility.

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