SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Vianta Vargas saw first hand the overcrowded condition at the county jail.
Vargas was an early release inmate but said Salt Lake County jail is overcrowded.
“When I was in there for the week-end I was released on Tuesday so like a whole bunch of girls were just leaving,” she said.
An ankle monitor now keeps track of Vargas. She is one of those released because of overcrowded conditions.
Tuesday, the jail released 33 due to overcrowding. The day before, 26 were released.
“It’s completely full,” said another early release inmate named Jarret. He didn’t want his last name disclosed.
He said a month ago it was full and just recently when he returned it was just as full.
“We sit up there and we see people leave all day long,” he said.
Low risk inmates are targeted for release according to Salt Lake County jail officials. Those releases have been going on for several months.
But arrests from Operation Rio Grande is now impacting the jail even more.
“We’re booking more and so we still have to have room for those,” said Sgt. Cammie Skogg, a spokesperson for the Salt Lake County jail.
It means there’s more jail releases, transfers, dismissed cases per a judges order and the booking and release of those arrested. She said anyone charged with class A, B or C misdemeanors are let go.
Sgt. Skogg said it’s possible those arrested in Operation Rio Grande are now back on the streets.
“Yes, if they qualified for an overcrowded release or able to post bond then they could have been released,” she said.
More than 400 have been arrested since Operation Rio Grande started last week.
But prosecutors said it’s not a revolving door. Salt Lake’s district attorney said anyone arrested and released is still on their radar.
“The initial phase was disruption so it is serving that law enforcement objective,” said Gill. “So are some of the misdemeanors being released? Yes they’re being released and have been released, booked. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to follow through on the prosecution of it.”
Sgt. Skogg said an extra 300-beds were made available for felony arrests in Operation Rio Grande. But she said once those are filled it may mean further restrictions at the jail.