Facebook Twitter



After nearly a year of delays, Weber County's new $3.4 million jail is ready for occupants.

Officials plan next week to move about half of the approximately 190 inmates housed in the county's 8-year-old jail into the adjacent 168-bed expansion west of the Municipal Building.It can't be too soon for Sheriff Craig Dearden and Capt. Samuel Vander Heide, who oversee the jail. The two have been battling overcrowding, plumbing and inmate problems for months, along with numerous delays and construction changes.

The jail originally was slated for completion in June 1991. But a fierce 1990-91 winter and resulting construction problems delayed it almost a year, Dearden said.

"It hasn't cost the county any more money, but it has caused us some overcrowding problems," Dearden said. The older portion has 139 beds.

Last November, Vander Heide told the County Commission that inmates were doing "intolerable" things due to overcrowding and a lack of jail staff.

In the past two years, two lawsuits were filed against the county by relatives of men who were beaten or died in the jail.

"It's too bad for the inmates it had to take so long," said Joan Hellstrom, commission chairman. She added all the construction changes and delays were necessary to make the jail more cost effective.

Overcrowding is only one of the problems the new facility will solve. Officials say they can resume programs that were discontinued due to lack of space and complete much-needed renovations in the older jail.

One such program is the GED course, which allows inmates to receive a high school equivalency certificate.

"The program hasn't run consistently for eight or nine years due to overcrowding in the old facility. They had to stop it; there was nowhere to hold it," Dearden said.