Were it not for the tragedy of a cellblock hanging in late October, the report last week of an inmate leaving the Routt County Jail to buy alcohol would have been rather humorous.
But the liquor run wasn't funny, at least not if we look at it as part of the bigger picture. It is
a picture showing a jail that apparently needs changes in the way inmates are supervised.
On Oct. 30, a 20-year-old man in jail for assaulting a paramedic and trying to steal an ambulance hanged himself outside of his cell in a commons area that is supposed to be under 24-hour surveillance.
Last Tuesday, an inmate trusty was outside the jail shoveling snow when he decided to run across the street to buy booze. He came back with the bottle of schnapps and shared it with another inmate as they baked cookies in the jail kitchen.
The two instances are certainly different one involved a troubled young man with a history of acting out; the other involved a trusted inmate who just couldn't resist the
temptation of trying to liven up a night in jail.
But there is a similarity in the two cases: They both happened when jail deputies weren't looking.
We have been impressed with the staff and leadership of the Sheriff's Office in recent years
and we suspect any problems at the jail aren't with personnel but with procedure.
We know that both the hanging and the booze run were seriously troubling to those who run the jail. We expect they will look closely at what they're doing and what they could be doing better.
We would encourage them, as servants of the people of Routt County, to be forthright and open about what they're doing to keep inmates safe inside the jail.