Suspects turned away from Billings jail amidst overcrowding and understaffing

Paul Hamby

Overcrowding at the largest jail in Montana has forced the facility’s commanders to turn away hundreds of people arrested in Billings over the past year.

The immediate release of those brought to Yellowstone County Detention Facility either on multiple outstanding warrants or charged with new offenses caused backlash from Billings residents, and has prompted the Billings Police Department to begin tracking the number of those arrested only to be denied being placed into custody at that jail.

“Remanding on lesser offenses has a direct impact on major crimes,” wrote BPD Detective Jeff Chartier in a statement to the Gazette.

Chartier is also president of the Billings Police Officers Affiliate for the Montana Federation of Public Employees.

“Arresting at the bottom reduces crime at the top. As a community accepts and allows lower offenses to multiply, the result is more serious crime,” he said.

People are also reading…

As of mid-July of this year, according to data provided by the department, BPD has served 1,325 warrants; 338 were felony warrants, 862 were misdemeanor and 125 were for traffic offenses. During that time, BPD Lt. Matt Lennick said there were 155 documented

View Source