US Marshals rent beds

Polk County will begin renting beds to the U.S. Marshals starting Feb. 2.

Photo by Jolene Guzman
Polk County will begin renting beds to the U.S. Marshals starting Feb. 2.

DALLAS — Inmates at the Polk County Jail soon will have company in the form of federal suspects awaiting trial.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is close to approving a contract with the U.S. Marshals to hold up to 10 pre-trial prisoners at the jail at a cost $900 per day.

Sheriff Mark Garton said the federal agency needed to find locations to hold up to 50 suspects by Feb. 2, when its contract with Lane County Jail expires. Garton said Lane County had to end the contract due to space concerns in its jail.

“Lane County was kicking out their own local people to hold the federal inmates,” Garton said.

Polk County has room to spare. Garton said the jail typically averages 120 inmates per day.

It has room to hold 195, and could expand that capacity to 204.

In the summer of 2017, the population peaked around 160.

“Last summer was the highest we’ve been that I can remember, and anyone at the jail can remember,” Garton said.

The jail will be fully staffed soon — two prospective deputies are undergoing background checks — and is designed to run on the same number of deputies whether it’s holding 50 or 195 inmates, Garton said.

He considers the arrangement a good deal for the county because he doesn’t have to hire more staff to cover the contract, and the jail will make money on the deal.

The county can end the contract with 90-days notice, which Garton said he would use if the jail’s population was such that local inmates would have to be released to make room for U.S. Marshals’ inmates.

“I don’t see a downside,” Garton said.

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