Not enough votes for a new jail in Jerome

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By Jay Michaels

11/04/09


When it came to voters actually approving a 30 year, almost $30 Million lease for a new Jerome county jail, the final result was 'Close, But No Cigar.'

Jerome County Sheriff Doug McFall said, “Yeah, the vote was really close. We were watching it all evening yesterday evening, and come to find out, it was just 21 votes short of passing.”

Out of 1823 ballots cast, just over 65 percent of voters said yes to a new Jerome county jail. But Idaho state law requires a 66 and two-thirds percent super majority for the bond to pass. Just under 23 percent of registered voters showed up at the polls.

For right now, McFall and his staff will have to make do with the old jail they've got which doesn't meet current jail standards, while the county commissioners research other options.

“In the short term, we're going to see how long we can keep our current facility in operation. We're going to have to start making plans to house those inmates in other facilities, which we're doing right now. We just may have to travel a little bit farther to meet our needs,” said McFall

He also says Jerome County has rented extra inmate beds in Gooding - Blaine and Elmore counties, but the travel expenses eat up taxpayer dollars. He says they'll probably extend their search for prison beds into eastern Idaho. McFall says he's thankful for the voters who see the need for a new Jerome county jail.

“You're always going to have people that are against anything, no matter what is on the ballots out there. And so when you're talking about two-thirds majority, that's pretty tough. You have to have some pretty good numbers to be able to meet that two-thirds.


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