County jail numbers dip after reaching capacity

Aug 20, 2017 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

Fremont County's jail is getting some relief, with its population dropping to 150.

At one point last week, the jail had 174 prisoners in-house, one shy of the 175-person capacity.

Because of the requirement to separate men and women, as well having to separate inmates who might be feuding, Sheriff Skip Hornecker said it's a strain even when the population rises above 160.

When the jail nears capacity, Hornecker can move inmates to other counties, bring in temporary bunks or ask a judge to shorten a sentence.

As of last week, 131 inmates were pre-adjudicated, which means they have not yet been convicted of crimes or been sentenced. Hornecker said the percentage of inmates who are pre-adjudicated recently has been rising.

The sheriff's office is preparing for a major change in detention processing in September, when it will begin taking all of its juvenile detainees to Natrona County.

Previously, all juveniles were taken to Sweetwater County, but that agreement is ending after county commissioners there have cut back services this year.

"There are some good things about that ... We don't have to worry about (South Pass) anymore," Hornecker said.

The jail has been struggling with a chronic shortage of employees over the last year. Just in the past month, Hornecker said, five positions have opened.

A finalist for a cook position at the facility was selected, but that hiring process has now started over after the candidate wasn't offered a job after all.

"A lot of people who have the skills don't make it through the process of background checks," he said.

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