Crisis averted: CCCS helps Butte-Silver Bow manage cook shortage at jail

There are daily challenges to keeping detention officers and inmates safe in a jail that’s routinely over capacity.

Skip or run out of meals on top of those challenges and you’ve got an emergency on your hands.

That hasn’t actually happened at the Butte Detention Center but it got close in July when a team of four cooks dwindled to one. In a facility that’s meant for 72 offenders but often houses 125 or more, just getting close is an emergency.

The Butte-Silver Bow Detention Center is seen on a rainy Thursday morning, Sept. 21, 2023 in Butte.

JOSEPH SCHELLER The Montana Standard

“Our detention center is overcrowded and I don’t see that changing,” Sheriff Ed Lester said. “The overcrowding is hard on staff and it is hard on the inmates. If we couldn’t provide quality meals, it would really add to the overall stress in the facility.”

Lester turned to Community, Counseling and Correctional Services in July to avert a crisis, and since the kitchen staffing shortage has continued, he asked commissioners to authorize an emergency six-month contract with the private, nonprofit

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