Owyhee County Jail

Idaho Law gives the County Commissioners the authority to operate a jail. The commissioners give the authority to run the jail to the Sheriff. The first jail was in Silver City. It was later moved to Murphy when the courthouse was moved. In 1992 the new and current jail was built in Murphy.

The records show that the first person to be arrested in Owyhee County was in 1891 for Assault. That prisoner later escaped and a $50.00 reward was put out on him. One of the records only shows that ‘5 Indians’ were arrested but does not show what for. Records show that they served about 8 months time. There were 12 people arrested during 1891. During 2000 there were 308 people arrested in Owyhee County and incarcerated for 4,187 prisoner days. Amazingly there were 7 murderers arrested in the first 5 years of jail operation. In looking over these records and the crimes committed it is safe to say life is a lot safer in Owyhee County now than 100 years ago.

When the current jail was built it was done so with the future in mind. There is room for 40 bunks. Because Owyhee County does not fill all of those, we rent out the beds to other counties and the state of Idaho. Last year I brought over $220,000.00 into the county general fund for rented space. Because of that I can hold Owyhee County prisoners for a fraction of the cost of other counties.

Since the new jail was built, every year we have passed the Jail Inspection requirements for the State of Idaho. These are rules set up by the Idaho Sheriff’s Association to keep the Counties out of litigation, to operate the jails safely and to provide the care that inmates are allowed by law. There are only a few of the Idaho Counties that pass this certification.

Owyhee County employees 5 full time and 1 part time Detention Officers. There are also 5 full time and 1 part time Dispatchers. Because of the design of the jail both the Detention Officer and Dispatcher are running the jail, which is, another cost saving to the County.

Inmate meals are served 3 times a day and the inmates must be offered 2,500 calories a day. Inmates are also allowed to purchase certain commissary items if they have money. Inmates are used to clean, cook and do minor maintenance to the jail. This keeps costs to the county down by not having to hire a cook or custodian.