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Temporary fix found for county jail case

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Commerce City, four other municipalities reach settlement over daily inmate cap

BRIGHTON — With Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr’s final term closing in on its final months and his controversial policy regarding municipal inmate limits officially rescinded, there remained only one hurdle between the county and the municipalities involved in the jail squabble.

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That hurdle was partially cleared Tuesday, Aug. 19, at the Adams County Board of Commissioners accepted the terms of a brokered settlement with the five Adams County municipalities — Aurora, Commerce City, Federal Heights, Northglenn and Thornton — that had brought a lawsuit against Darr and the county over the limits.

The inmate cap, originally put into effect in 2012, had previously been rescinded by the commissioners but had not actually changed, as Sheriff Darr continued to limit the number of municipal offenders being held at the Adams County Jail to 30.

As a result of the settlement, the sheriff is raising the limit on daily municipal inmates to 65, with the respective municipalities agreeing to pay a daily fee for any inmates above the cap. Additionally, domestic violence offenders will not count against the cap.

“This agreement meets our goal of finding a compromise outside of a courtroom,” said Commissioner Chaz Tedesco. “We believe it lays the framework for a permanent solution.”

The settlement itself does not fully resolve the issue, however. The agreement delays any litigation between the municipalities and the county until May 15, 2015.

Sheriff Darr previously cited understaffing at the jail as the reason for instituting the inmate cap. After multiple municipalities had inmates denied, some — namely the City of Aurora — formalized agreements with other nearby jails to house their inmates.

Part of the settlement also details the level of communication between the Sheriff’s Office and the municipalities to better manage the municipal inmate levels, including an emailed list of inmates at the Adams County Jail to be sent no later than 9 a.m. daily.

“We are pleased that the municipalities and the Sheriff were able to negotiate through their differences on this issue, and we hope the improved communication plan will foster a more cooperative path going forward,” said Tedesco.

Another stipulation in the settlement calls for the county to hire a staffing consultant to assess the situation at the Adams County Jail.