Home to the city of Boise, the state capital of Idaho, Ada County is associated with relatively quiet living and abundant natural beauty. Ada County has a population of nearly 400,000 residents and encompasses just over 1000 square miles. Recent jail experiences have upended this quiet northwestern county, however; Ada County is also home to the County Jail complex, which houses in excess of 1200 prisoners at any given time. Chronically understaffed, overcrowded, and in dire need of an increased operating budget, the Ada County Jail has been the location for several high-profile incidents that put inmates and staff at risk.
Truck Crash at the Ada County Jail
In April 2019, a man drove his pickup truck through a security gate at the Ada County Jail. After ramming the gate, the truck continued into a jail warehouse door, severely damaging the door and penetrating into the building itself. Witnesses reported that prior to driving through the gate, the driver of the pickup made an abrupt U-turn on Cole Road, then proceeded across the lawn located next to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office adjoins the county’s jail complex.
No one was injured and no inmates escaped as a result of the crash. The driver of the vehicle, 55-year old Jeffrey Dale Hines, was apprehended after his truck came to a stop and he walked into the warehouse. The incident set off a jail lockdown and subsequent full building search, including a visit by Boise Police Department’s specially-trained bomb-sniffing dogs. Authorities are unclear as to why Hines targeted the jail complex. The Sheriff’s Office states that in addition to the security gate and warehouse door, the property contained inside the warehouse also saw significant damage.
Boise Shooting Death
Carlos Sandoval was charged with murder and sent to the Ada County Jail without bond after committing a horrific crime in August 2019. Sandoval stands accused of using a deadly weapon in an aggravated assault of two victims, a male, and a female. Both victims were taken to a local Boise hospital, where the male victim later died. The female victim received care for her injuries and was released.
Law enforcement authorities got the call that there was an active shooting and rushed to the scene. In a panic, Sandoval entered into a standoff with police, paralyzing a neighborhood on North Fry Street in Boise. After three hours, Sandoval eventually surrendered, receiving instructions via cell phone by police dispatch personnel. He remains at the Ada County Jail where he awaits trial. In all, Sandoval is charged with:
- 1st Degree Murder
- Aggravated Battery
- Using a Deadly Weapon in Commission of a Felony
The Ada County Sheriff’s Office operates an online portal where anyone can look up information on inmates housed in the County Jail. The portal also displays arrest and warrant information.
Overcrowded, Understaffed, and Underfunded
In June 2018, the Ada County Jail made national news when County Sheriff Stephen Bartlett requested a revised budget to help ease understaffing at the Jail facility. The county initially requested a $67.1 million budget for the fiscal year 2019; the revised budget asked for $72.7 million, or $5.6 million more than the initial request. The additional money would be earmarked to help hire 39 new employees.
In his presentation to county officials, Sheriff Bartlett showed photographs of the overcrowded conditions at the jail. Inmates were sleeping on temporary cots, including in common areas. At the time of the presentation, the jail housed over 1100 inmates, far in excess of recommended jail population levels for a facility of its size. Jail facilities throughout the state of Idaho are overcrowded; experts at the Idaho Department of Correction indicate that an additional 2400 beds will be needed by 2022 to handle the increase in prisoners. The overcrowding has gotten so bad that officials have had to move inmates to county jails across the state and have even shipped inmates to facilities in other states. Chronic understaffing has complicated the jail operations picture, not only in Ada County but in facilities across the country. Additional funding is needed by many jails to hire new personnel.