Over the last 20 years, Weber County has experienced a 25% increase in population. While inevitable population growth has brought about economic expansion and many wonderful opportunities, the county’s current jailing infrastructure has reached its capacity.
Presently, Weber County Jail can hold up to 888 inmates. However, in light of our recent increase in population, the current jailing facility is at capacity, forcing correctional staff to turn away those who have incurred misdemeanor charges for shoplifting, trespassing, public intoxication, and disorderly conduct.
Without exposure to the jail’s correctional programs, people with misdemeanors not only walk free but are more likely to become repeat offenders in the future. In short, inadequate jailing infrastructure poses a monumental risk to the community.
Not only does an at-capacity jail threaten public safety, but the current jail construction model is outdated and lacks basic necessities such as medical and mental health wings. In the wake of a post-pandemic world, mental and physical healthcare needs have only worsened, particularly for incarcerated individuals. Constructing a medical and mental health wing will provide more inmates with access to the health care services needed to heal and develop while serving their time.
In addition to constructing a medical and mental health wing, the proposed modern community release center will not only equip inmates with invaluable life skills and rehabilitation services, but also opportunities to participate in community service, education, and work release programs.
After all, prioritizing Weber County’s jail expansion efforts is not just about warehousing individuals. While it’s essential to provide Weber County inmates with a safe environment, rehabilitation programs, schooling, and employment opportunities, a chief concern of the sheriff’s office is protecting the local community by mitigating rising crime rates.
“We have a goal to help teach these individuals to be self-sufficient and contribute to society in a good way, and with our current facility, we are unable to do that to the extent that we hope to,” Sheriff Ryan Arbon said.