Ada County is presently paying more than $1.7 Million per year to transport county jail inmates. The vast majority of these dollars could have been saved.
In earlier posts, I have discussed the failure of the Ada County courthouse financing scheme to work as originally presented to the public. The result has been an increased cost of millions of dollars in property taxes, as well as exorbitant parking rates for captive courthouse visitors by Boise City’s urban renewal agency, CCDC.
I have recently been reminded of another huge cost that could have been avoided. During the mid-1990’s, when plans for a new Ada County Courthouse were being crafted, the idea of building a courthouse near the Ada County jail, at Barrister, was floated. I publicly supported the idea at the time.
If the courthouse had been built adjacent to the jail, inmates could have been taken to court through a secure underground passageway, rather than in buses, vans and police cars, through the streets of Boise, to the downtown courthouse location.
Yesterday, the Sheriff’s office presented figures on the annual cost of moving inmates. Although a small percentage of the cost can be attributed to moving inmates from other facilities, such as the Idaho Department of Corrections facility south of town, the bulk of it can be attributed to porting inmates from the jail to the Ada County Courthouse, and back again.
Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney and his staff have worked diligently to promote the use of video court appearances, thereby saving the high cost of transport. Unfortunately, these video court appearances are limited to certain types of preliminary hearings and therefore do not provide as much cost reduction as we taxpayers might hope for.
The Sheriff’s Office moves an average of 60 inmates a day, or a total of about 15,000 inmates a year. This practice is heavily personnel intensive and, therefore, costs taxpayers over $1.7 million a year. It’s a shame more consideration wasn’t given to building the courthouse near the jail, back in the 1990’s, when a better decision could have been made on behalf of Ada County property taxpayers.