Inmates from Archuleta County will continue to be housed at the La Plata County jail for the foreseeable future after a flood at the Archuleta County Courthouse and jail two weeks ago.
The flood severely damaged the building, forcing deputies to evacuate inmates to the La Plata County jail, said Archuleta County Sheriff Rich Valdez.
“We recognized the health-and-safety issue,” he said.
The flood also forced sheriff’s office administration to relocate to another building about a mile away on Gold Mine Drive.
While administration has been hampered, patrols have continued as usual. When deputies make an arrest, the person is taken directly to La Plata County.
Deputies also have to shuttle inmates to and from court hearings in Archuleta County.
Archuleta County deputies have been transporting about five inmates a day between Durango and Pagosa Springs, but it is highly variable, Valdez said.
Valdez currently is working on an agreement with La Plata County to pay for housing inmates.
“The last thing we want is to have any of the citizens of La Plata County feeling like it’s coming out of their pocket,” he said.
There is no timeline on when the constant shuttling will end.
“We’re looking at several months before an outcome is apparent,” said Archuleta County Commissioner Michael Whiting.
Archuleta County commissioners are trying to determine whether the building should be remodeled or if other possibilities are available.
“We’re exploring our options and determining the cost of those options,” he said.
There currently are no cost estimates for the damage to the building and electronics, but it will not be cheap.
The jail’s cameras, the intercom, the electronic-locking system and the main control board all are damaged, Valdez said.
“When we deal with electronics, it adds up,” he said.
To help limit the housing costs at La Plata County jail, once inmates go to trial, the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office is looking into alternative sentencing measures for inmates, such as house arrest.