Jail returns to normal operations
by Sublette County Sheriff’s Office
February 21, 2016
As of Saturday morning, February 20th, the majority of Sublette County inmates displaced by the sewage problem that began in the Sublette County Detention Center in the early afternoon of Monday, February 15th, had been returned to the facility.
The problem, caused in part by blockage in the sewage pipes, triggered sewage to back up through the drains in the communal showers and into the day rooms of two of the main jail housing areas. A number of toilets adjacent to those shower stalls also had sewage backup, causing the temporary shut down and immediate removal of 18 out of 23 inmates. Those inmates being housed in areas unaffected by the back-up remained in the facility.
The Sublette County Dispatch Center was also affected, causing communications to move to a temporary command trailer parked behind the main building. They had returned to the facility by Tuesday afternoon.
"As of this morning, we have most of our inmates back in the facility," Sheriff Stephen Haskell said. "At the advice of our county health people, we hired a professional crew to clean the area affected by the backup, and they have certified that the areas are ready to house our people again."
That cleaning company will also absorb some of the liability of the clean-up.
"Our maintenance people were really great. They had done a good job of cleaning the affected areas. It was really amazing what they were able and willing to accomplish with the initial cleaning. The use of the outside entity was just an additional precaution necessary to ensure that our community members spending time in the jail would be safe."
In a joint effort with the Sweetwater County Detention Center, the facility that housed the largest number of Sublette County inmates, the transport of inmates was complete by Friday evening.
"We still have one pod with a lingering sewage smell, so that pod remains empty," said Sheriff Haskell. "Until we can identify why that area still has a smell, I’m not comfortable with housing people there. We’ll keep working with our maintenance crew to determine what the problem is and hopefully get it corrected soon."
The detention facility, which underwent a renovation that was completed in 2004, was built to house approximately 50 inmates. With the inability to use one pod, that number is cut by about 20 beds.
"Hopefully we can figure out the issue quickly," said Sheriff Haskell. "Twenty beds doesn’t seem like much, but when you take into account the separate housing of females and males, special needs, high crimes, etc., this hinders the facility greatly. We’re cut down to nearly half."