The COVID 19 pandemic has forced changes on many aspects of our society, and that includes the Missoula County Detention Center.

Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Jeannette Smith described the new policies under which inmates will or will not be incarcerated at the Missoula County Detention Center.

“The detention facility has 224 beds,” said Smith “On March 17th we had 187 inmates and on May 26th we had 127 inmates.”

Smith said the Missoula County Commissioners imposed new restrictions on which offenders could be housed at the jail to protect against the spread of coronavirus.

“The detention facility will not accept individuals into the detention center that have been charged but not convicted of non-violent misdemeanor offenses under state laws or city ordinances,” she said. “They will also not accept individuals into the detention center who have been arrested based on a warrant for failure to appear for a court date and thus related to non-violent misdemeanor offenses under state law and/or city ordinances also.”

Smith then described which individuals would be housed at the jail.

“What we do book individuals under are felony offenses, violent or dangerous misdemeanors,” she said. We also have exigent circumstances which would be circumstances that would pose a public safety risk or possibly destruction of property or evidence.”

Smith quoted Sheriff McDermott on the changes to jail policy.

“I think our Sheriff T.J. McDermott said it best,” she said. “He said it is our sincerest hope that taking drastic steps to stop the spread of COVID 19 will allow for safer operations for us all, and that includes our deputies, our detention staff, our inmates and the public.”

It is not known when the county will see fit to return the jail to its normal operations.