Missoula County could settle ACLU lawsuit over jail recreation


MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula County could settle a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union over outdoor recreational space at the jail.

The ACLU is representing female and juvenile inmates. The suit was filed over complaints that women and juveniles don't have the same access to fresh air and sunshine as adult males.

Right now women and juveniles don't have an outdoor spot. Men do. It's an enclosure with a mesh ceiling that is open to the outdoors.

Missoula County Sheriff Carl Ibsen is considering a plan to develop secure outdoor areas next to the detention center for women, juveniles and men. Both areas would have high, secure fences. The lawns would be covered with concrete.

The cost -- $175,000 to $200,000 to convert the areas, plus another $300,000 every year for staff to supervise the yards.

"I wish we weren't in the position of having to do this," said Ibsen. "I'm happy to move forward and get us a little more in compliance."

The county said costs would be borne by taxpayers.

The sheriff thinks the yards would require six full-time staff members to supervise the yards.

The Missoula County Detention Center was built 14 years ago.

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