Misssoula County Sheriff Carl Ibsen says he sees no need for significant changes at the Missoula County Detention Facility.
The Missoulian Editorial Board disagrees, and so do we.
Inmate deaths, a violent (possibly racially motivated) assault and employee union complaints within just the past couple months all point to a troubled facility. Change is needed to protect both prisoners and staff.
Jails are tumultuous places. Risks are high. That's why the Missoula County Detention Facility and all Montana jails need statewide jail standards.
In 2008 and 2010 the state Law and Justice Interim Committee looked into implementing such standards, but never took action despite findings troubling findings. Counties said they could implement voluntary standards. Few have done so, however.
The U.S. Department of Justice's National Institute of Corrections cited many reasons that states should require such standards. In a 2007 report, the institute cited the risks or inmate violence and suicide, prisoners' civil rights, risks to jail employees, liability exposure and more as reasons for implementing statewide standards.
About half of U.S. states have such standards. The others, like Montana, do not.
It's time for Montana to get serious about jail standards.