AURORA | City officials on Monday released six inmates from jail early because there wasn’t jail space for them, the latest development in the ongoing jail feud between Aurora and Adams County.
The six inmates, who city officials identified Monday, were serving time on minor charges, including disturbing the peace, making false statements, disorderly conduct, trespassing, having a vicious animal and theft. But in each case, city officials said the inmates had lengthy arrest records and some had been charged before with violent crimes. And, city officials said, the inmates pose a threat to the community and will likely re-offend.
“It’s extremely unfortunate because obviously our judges made a decision that these people posed a danger to Aurora’s citizens,” Aurora police Chief Dan Oates said.
Aurora officials opted to release the inmates Monday — in one case more than four months before the inmate’s sentence was complete — because there wasn’t space for them at the Adams County Jail, where Sheriff Doug Darr has limited the number of beds for municipal inmates.
Under the cap, the jail will only accept 30 inmates sentenced by municipal courts around the county, which tend to handle lower-level crimes. The jail still accepts all defendants sentenced in county or district court.
Darr said Monday that the decision to release the inmates early was Aurora’s, not his. And, Darr said, while Aurora was supposed to be allowed just four beds for municipal offenders, the city had 12 inmates at the jail when officials announced plans to release the six in question.
“We have never been rigid about the cap, ever. We have always tried to be flexible and work with them,” he said. The inmates released Monday range in age from 26 to 59 and all have been arrested and stood before an Aurora Municipal Court judge before.
One man, James Adkins, 47, has been arrested more than 60 times on charges including child abuse, domestic violence and felony menacing, according to state records. He was sentenced in January to 117 days in jail on a misdemeanor theft charge, but was released Monday with 71 days left on that sentence.
Another inmate, Chivas Popichak-Modispacher, 32, was serving a 29-day sentence for making a false statement but was released with 17 days left to serve. Popichak-Modispacher’s criminal history includes arrests for drugs, felony burglary and weapons possession.
Aurora officials have been working with Douglas and Broomfield counties in recent weeks to try to hammer out an agreement to house Aurora inmates at those facilities, but the deals are not yet complete. Oates said city officials have contacted every jail within a reasonable driving distance of Aurora, but haven’t yet worked out a deal to house the city’s inmates that Darr turns away.
The ongoing spat between Darr and other cities in Adams County has included the jail refusing inmates from Aurora, but this is the first time inmates have been set free because there wasn’t room for them at the jail.
The release comes just weeks after Aurora and four other Adams County cities filed a lawsuit against the county asking a judge to force the sheriff to allow more city inmates at the county jail.
In response to the lawsuit, Adams County Commissioners last week unanimously voted to reinstate the cap. Commissioners last year lifted the ban in hopes that Darr and the cities would work out a deal, but that never happened. Like their vote last spring to lift the cap, the commissioners’ move this week was largely symbolic. Darr has maintained a cap on municipal inmates for several years now and the cap hasn’t fluctuated at all, despite the commission’s efforts.
According to a joint statement from the five cities who filed the lawsuit — Aurora, Commerce City, Thornton, Federal Heights and Northglenn — the cities want a judge to compel Darr to accept municipal inmates.
Darr last week declined to comment on the lawsuit. He said he and his staff are working to hire more deputies to work in the jail, but it takes time.
In addition to lifting the jail cap last spring, county commissioners signed off on a plan for 13 additional deputies in the sheriff’s office.
Those new hires, which will cost about $630,000, mean the sheriff will have the staff necessary to oversee some units in the jail that currently sit empty. Darr said last week that those deputies aren’t yet ready to work so, at least for now, things remain status quo at the jail.
It would seem that Chief Oats, Manager Noe and City Council have the right idea. Dam the law and the concept of minor charges, these inmates do not deserve justice; these inmates past behaviour has earned them our opprobrium and any length of incarseration that Manager Noe and Chief Oats deems appropriate.