The average daily jail population in the Larimer County Jail in 1987 was 130 inmates. The average daily population moved within a narrow range until 1992 when the population was 156. The population rose for a few years and reached a plateau until 1999 and has steadily risen until 2003 showing an increase of over 270% from 1987 to 2003. In 2003 criminal justice consultants predicted that if nothing changed in the criminal justice processes, the Larimer County Jail would need 683 beds in 2011.
Due to operational changes in the justice system and the agreement to release a certain category of inmates early with the agreement of Larimer County Judges and the Sheriff, the inmate population has been held in check for the past six years. However, the use of alternative sentencing, expansion of pretrial services, administrative changes in the courts, some mental health treatments and early releases from the jail have reached their capacity and the maximum range of their positive impact on jail population.
In 2010 the County approved the expansion of the Alternative Sentencing Department, including a larger facility to house offenders. When the new building is completed in early 2012 the opportunity to manage jail population should again be improved.
Continued diligence in identifying and implementing new treatment programs and the ongoing support of alternatives to incarceration should lessen the immediate pressure to expand the Larimer County Jail. With multiple options available when sentencing offenders, the criminal justice system helps ensure community safety in an efficient and cost effective manner.