City Approves New Jail - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

City Approves New Jail

Posted: Updated:

Miles City voters approved a $7.5 Million Detention facility Tuesday night. The outcome came as a surprise for commissioners.

The votes came in as 940 against and 2,402 in favor of a new Custer County Jail. "We were very surprised by the margin of success with our bond issue. The excitement of it is overwhelming to be able to continue and move forward," Custer County Sheriff, Tony Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh said the existing jail was shut down in October of 2012, because it was too small, too cold, and the ACLU was concerned over its conditions. "And, I think we've squeezed every bit of usefulness out of it in the 109 years we've used it now. It's time for it to be replaced. It truly is," Harbaugh said.

County Commissioner, Kevin Krausz, said the old jail has a lot of history, but he's happy to see the new 28-bed structure take shape in a couple of years. "It was a tough sell. When you're asking the public to come up with $7.5 million, it's pretty tough. The public responded and said, 'yeah, let's build a new jail.' So, we're excited about that," Krausz said.

Just to get a perspective of how old this jail is, this is where the execution-style trap door sits, where criminals would take their last step, before falling to their death. "We need to be able to meet the standard. That standard includes things like direct sunlight, fresh air, and a place to exercise," Sheriff Harbaugh said.

At last count, about 12 Custer County prisoners were housed some 200 miles away in Glasgow. City officials said even though the new facility comes with a hefty price tag, it will be worth it versus paying for transportation costs.

County commissioners estimate the new facility will cost the owner of $100,000 home, approximately $50 a year for the next two decades.