Kootenai County Jail overcrowded, in need of upcoming expansion

As of Tuesday morning, Kootenai County’s jail roster was 437 names long – significantly more than their 327 beds.

“Right now, we’re housing a lot of people in five different counties at a huge expense to the taxpayers, so bringing them back home would help reduce that,” said Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolinger.

The expansion, set to be completed early this fall, will produce 115 new beds. So on Tuesday, the 442 beds would have accommodated the 437 inmates. However, on any given weekend, the county could be stuck with the same old problem.

“We hit a big number over the weekend on the 18th of February. We had 471 inmates in our jail,” reported Captain Kim Edmonson.

With this problem in mind, the expansion includes the preliminary ground work for two additional dormitory pods that would house 108 new beds, bringing the total to 550. However, County Commissioners have delayed the cost of finishing those pods until the next expansion vote.

“We’re probably going to need it sooner than later,” admitted Edmonson.

While some might think even more beds are needed, for now the sheriff is worrying about what he can control: the two dozen hires he’ll make before the new facility opens

“My focus is on hiring qualified people for the job.”

If you or someone you know is interested in a career in law enforcement, be sure to visit the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office Job Fair this Saturday at 5500 North Government Way in Coeur d’Alene from 10am to 1pm.