BY NATE TAYLOR
After years of finding ways to avoid putting an inmate capacity at the Larimer County Detention Center, Sheriff Jim Alderden says a limited budget has left the criminal justice system no other options.
Alderden expects there to be a 460-person capacity at the jail starting in December, shortly after the Larimer County commissioners finalize the 2009 budget.
Currently there are about 490 people in the jail, but the population has reached as high as 520 in the past, Alderden said.
Alderden said with a capacity at the jail, it could mean placing more criminals into the work release program, releasing more criminals before the end of their sentence or closing down certain areas of the jail.
The Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, which will be responsible for coming up with the best ways to meet the capacity restriction, has and will continue to have some tough decisions to make, Alderden said.
"We've kept our jail population under control better than most counties," said Eighth Judicial District Judge Terrence Gilmore, who is also the chairman of the CJAC. "But we are going to continue to face these same problems over and over."
Fallout from the decision to put a capacity at the jail could include judges deciding to place criminals in the work release program rather than sentencing them to jail time, Gilmore said.
"We've never gotten to that point yet, and I hope that we never do," he said. "That's a possibility judges may have to face."
He also said in some instances judges will have no choice but to include jail time during sentencing due to the requirements of the law.
In that instance, Gilmore said it will be interesting to see how the decision is made to make room in the jail.
"Some of these problems would definitely have to be resolved as the situation occurs," he said.