'It's tough': How a nationwide jail dilemma is unfolding in Yellowstone County

Paul Hamby

Earlier this month, one of the more than 500 people in custody at Yellowstone County Detention Facility tried leaping from the second floor of his cell block. He had some bedding fashioned into a noose around his neck. A detention officer, one of around 50 staffing the jail, pulled him back in time.

With those who are incarcerated seven times more likely to threaten suicide or self harm than those who are out, according to national data on America’s jails, keeping inmates from hurting themselves or others is one of several expectations for employees at YCDF.

For years, however, jail administrators in Yellowstone County have been caught in the same vice squeezing detention facilities nationwide. It has too many inmates and not enough jailers.

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A holding cell is photographed at Yellowstone County Detention Facility is photographed on Thursday.


“It’s tough, but we do the best we can,” said Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder.

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