The Washington County Jail is so overcrowded, with floor space at a premium, that judges are releasing prisoners.
"It used to be we didn't have enough beds," said Sheriff Glen-wood Humprhries. "Now we're running out of floor space to put them on."That rates as a state of emergency, said County Commissioner Jerry Lewis, who told fellow commissioners Monday that funding for a new modular unit to augment the 70-bed jail should come out of the emergency account.
Trouble is, there are no emergency funds.
County Clerk Calvin Robison said the idea of a separate budget line for emergencies has been discussed for a number of years but never approved.
The commission decided to allocate $27,348 from the general fund for a 15- to 20-bed modular unit, which would be attached to the jail and would house weekend inmates for the next two years.
Last week, County Commissioner Russ Gallian said the proposed new Washington County Jail may have to be located on the same plat of land where county planners want to place a new racetrack and county fairgrounds.
Gallian said the current jail site in St. George is too small to expand.
Plans to build the jail next to U-9 across the street from the Quail Creek Reservoir turnoff are extremely preliminary, Gallian said, but should be considered.
Studies show the total cost for a new jail and court facilities, which Gallian said are desperately needed, is $20 million - money the county doesn't expect to have for quite awhile.