Last week the Salt Lake County Council gave Sheriff Jim Winder $705,000 to send inmates to other jails, mostly in rural counties. The plan is a "temporary fix" until July, when the state and county will each pay $2.8 million to send inmates to other jails, thereby opening up 300 more beds in Salt Lake County.
Salt Lake County's facilities started getting overcrowded two years ago. That's when the state's Justice Reform Initiative, which intended to keep people with drug and mental issues out of prison, shifted 7,000 inmates from state prison to county jails. To cope, Winder created priorities that jailed violent offenders and left drug offenders on the street.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams recently called for funding of the JRI or a return to pre-JRI criminal penalties to halt the "chaos on our streets," referring to the increasing number of homeless people adrift and drug deals being done in Salt Lake City's Rio Grand neighborhood.