Business up at Pitkin County jail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Awhile back, the inmate population at the Pitkin County jail was so low that there were not enough people to play a four-handed game of cards. But business seems to have picked up at the local hoosegow, with more than 20 people on the books as of Monday, records showed.
Some of the inmates have been locked up for more than five months as their cases go through the criminal justice system. Others occupants are of more recent vintage, having been incarcerated in the past couple of days or weeks.
All told, 17 inmates were housed in general population on Monday afternoon, jail records showed, with four other people on the work-release side.
The average occupancy rate stands between 12 and 15 people in the general population, jailer Jim DeBerge said.
By comparison, the lowest occupancy point in recent memory was reached in mid-August, when there were only three full-time inmates and five people in work release.
While inmates are housed at the same facility, located behind the Pitkin County Courthouse, those in work release are kept apart from the general population crowd in an area that’s capable of holding up to six people.
The work-release area consists mainly of six cells, a restroom with one shower, a small lounge and kitchen. There is also a 19-inch television that sits in one corner of the area.
DeBerge said the work-release inmates go in and out, which is one reason why they are separated from the general population.
“They go to work and come back,” said DeBerge, who has worked at the jail for more than 25 years. “They also go to their AA meetings and other [things].”
Work-release inmates also pay their own way, with those living or working in the area doling out $15 per day. Occupants from out of the county pay $50 per day.
While the facility is capable of holding more than 30 inmates, including work release, that figure has rarely been tested since it was built in the mid-1980s. DeBerge said it maybe has happened a half-dozen times over the years.
“About 32 [inmates] before we got to the floor with mattresses,” he said.
Of the current group of inmates, Victor Gonzalez-Rodriguez has the longest consecutive stay, jail records showed. He was sentenced last week to four years of supervised probation after pleading guilty to attempted unlawful sexual contact, a class IV felony.
Gonzalez-Rodriguez, 42, remains behind bars on a hold from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Should he be deported, his probation status would be changed to unsupervised.
He is a native of Mexico but has lived in Aspen for the past 13 years.
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