Overcrowded Kootenai County Jail a serious issue


With people on the floors and more than two people in some cells, overcrowding in the Kootenai County Jail, like many jails across America, is a serious issue.

“Our population continues to increase but our facility site has stayed the same,” Detective Dennis Stinebaugh with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office said.

The jail's problems go back to 2004.

An expansion project was completed in 2002, and two years later, the jail was at capacity.

In 2006, Kootenai County began sending inmates to surrounding county jails.

“In our situation it's all that we can do and it also -- by us not having our jail expanded -- puts a burden on those agencies as well,” Stinebaugh said.

On top of all the overcrowding, over 100 people accused of physically violent crimes are packed into one unit that’s only supposed to house 70 people.

“It does create safety issues,” Detective Stinebaugh said.

Now, the sheriff’s office is working with county commissioners to expand the jail. The addition would add over 100 beds.

“If it is approved we should be able to start expansion some time late May, early June,” he said.

The sheriff’s office says the addition, if passed, wouldn’t be completed until August 2018.

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