Eagle commissioners sign deal to hold Pitkin inmates, temporarily
Eagle County commissioners unanimously blessed an intra-governmental agreement Tuesday that will allow their sheriff’s office to hold a portion of inmates from Pitkin County Jail on a temporary basis.
“This is short term, so it allows Pitkin County some breathing room to figure out exactly what they’re going to do and to be able to get the contractors to finish up the areas that they currently have, so that is safe and secure for when they start housing their inmates,” Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek told the commissioners Tuesday.
The extent of the IGA is for 120 days, “so long as Pitkin County is making progress toward finalizing their construction project,” according to the agreement, which will require the signatures of commissioners from both counties. The IGA includes options for two 30-day renewals. Eagle County will responsible for housing and feeding the inmates. Pitkin County will be responsible for seeing the inmates make their court appearances. Pitkin County will pay Eagle County $61 per inmate.
Pitkin County Sheriff Michael Buglione said Tuesday that repairs to the jail “should start within a few weeks and be complete within 12 weeks.” Buglione, however, said that timeline is ambitious.
“Knowing how construction goes and of course the supply chain, the way it is these days, I’d like to have a few weeks cushion in case (the general contractor) has a problem getting materials and workers here,” he said.
The work’s scope would include repairing cell doors in the jailhouse, installing new light fixtures, making fixes to the bathrooms and “shrouding any wires so they can’t be tampered with,” Buglione said.
The work is part of making the jail a safer environment for staff and inmates.
“This does not bring any current standard as permanent,” Buglione said. “It’s just a band-aid to get a few other beds available for detainees and figure out what square footage we need, in the physical building we have, to make it happen.”
The sheriff said he wants “the maximum square footage in the current footprint, and work backwards from there” before deciding the jail’s future design.
The new IGA comes after Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario severed a similar agreement with Pitkin County on the same day Buglione was sworn in as sheriff, Jan. 10. Vallario cited the outcome of the November election, which saw Buglione prevail in a bitter contest over three-term Sheriff Joe DiSalvo. DiSalvo’s campaign emphasized the the need for a new jail facility. Buglione’s stated campaign position was that the county did not need a new jailhouse.
Vallario’s wife, Kim, also had worked under DiSalvo since 2018. She resigned the first week of the year.
“Due to the election, the personalities and philosophies have changed. I have no desire to build a personal relationship with your new sheriff, but I will maintain a professional demeanor as our paths cross. I’ll be asking the Garfield BOCC to terminate the IGA pursuant to this agreement,” Sheriff Vallario wrote in a letter to Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock, which was received on inauguration day.
Garfield commissioners honored Vallario’s request on Jan. 16.
In March 2021, Vallario and then Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo reached an agreement that Garfield County’s jail would hold Pitkin-booked inmates staying longer than 48 hours. That IGA was reached after a January 2021 incident where an inmate attacked and strangled a then-deputy Deborah Kendrick, who last week filed a negligence suit against Pitkin County Jail’s health-care provider over the incident.
Pitkin County reopened its work-release program for inmates last summer, but it has not had room for other inmates ever since DiSalvo determined the 24-bed facility was outdated and too small to operate safely, and forged the IGA with Garfield County.
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