Colorado inmates being shipped to rural county jail because of overcrowding

DENVER -- Jail overcrowding is nothing new, but there are no signs of it getting better in Colorado.

County jails that are maxed out end up contracting out to other jails.

One of those jails is 120 miles northeast of Denver and most Coloradans don't even know it exists. It turns out the jail in the town of Akron is the beating heart of the little populated but sprawling Washington County.

"Most Sheriff offices know we're here. The U.S. Marshals Office and the Department of Corrections know that we're here," said Washington County Sheriff John Stivers. "We are here to help."

Stivers inherited the 16-year-old jail when he took the top job a few years back. 

"Basically if you build it they will come," he said.

In this case, Stivers is talking about inmates from overcrowded jails in other counties who are brought to his jail.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith says it's hard to find jail cells for rent.

"The few counties that rent beds out have a waiting list of folks willing to pay for them," said Sheriff Smith.

The Washington County jail opened in 2001. It employs 30 deputies.

"That's an economic boost for Washington County," said Commissioner Terry Hart.

The jail is expected to pay itself off in the next few years.

"After the billing is paid off then we'll have a decision to make," said Sheriff Hart.

The decision will involve how the jail's revenue will be dispersed through the county. One thing's for sure: as long as there are inmates, there will be jobs for deputies.

"They're basically paying their own salaries by doing the amount of work that they do," said Sheriff Stivers.

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