Pitkin County Jail project done, inmates to return
After about a month at the Garfield County Jail, inmates of the Pitkin County Jail will begin returning to Aspen in the next few days following a jail improvement project, an official said Wednesday.
“I’m real happy with it,” jail Director Don Bird said of the refurbished 32-year-old jail. “We’re all excited about the way it turned out.”
Bird led Pitkin County commissioners on a tour of the facility Wednesday morning, which concluded with lunch served in the inmates’ commons room.
“Pitkin County has a lot to be proud of with our jailer and our jail facilities,” Commissioner Rachel Richards said. “It’s about human dignity in our community.”
The $300,000 project was initially envisioned as a way to bring the jail into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, while also installing fire sprinklers in each cell and replacing old plumbing. However, county officials decided to take advantage of the fact that inmates would not be there and also included plans for new carpeting, paint, floor tiles and a general deep cleaning.
The new sprinklers are nearly invisible in the cell ceilings, though the sprinkler heads initially installed were too easy to vandalize and will be replaced today with a different model, Bird said.
In addition, a cell was converted to be able to accommodate a disabled person in a wheelchair, though such a person has never been housed in the facility, Bird said. Also, new cameras were installed that cover areas that were previously not able to be seen, he said.
The jail has been open for booking and for people assigned to the work release program, while deputies have had to transport inmates from Glenwood Springs for court dates and other appointments. Garfield County Sheriff Lou Valario did not charge the county for housing the inmates, though some Pitkin County jail officers worked shifts in Garfield County during the past month.
Commissioner Steve Child acknowledged Valario’s generosity during the regular county commissioner meeting Wednesday.
“I’d like to thank Garfield County for hosting inmates at no cost to Pitkin County,” he said.
The Pitkin County Jail was built in 1984.
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An Aspen conservation non-profit wants permission from Pitkin County to establish a low-impact nature education and camping area near Ashcroft on a plot of land originally approved for a single family home.