A sewer line collapse in the Box Butte County Jail has led to some inmates being transferred to jails in other counties as repairs are made to the aging structure.

Box Butte County Sheriff Tammy Mowry said the sewer pipe is collapsing due to structural issues at the jail.

“The plumber tells me that what’s on the roof, like a sewer cap, is not venting properly, and it’s going into the sewer pipes. So, every time it rains, it’s just draining right back down into the sewer system. It’s full of dirt and sand right now.”

Mowry said the timeline for the repairs is 10 days. She noted this is not the first time the jail has required extensive work.

“This isn’t the only time where they’ve had to dig up the floor,” Mowry said. “What’s happening now is, we’re just finding out, that we’re having to do it in sections. Years back, we even had to tear up the lobby. It sounds like when they put in the plumbing pipe, they put cement over it, and they shouldn’t have.”

The construction of the building was completed in 1976. Mowry said during the most recent roof installation, there were sewer cap pipes cut flush with the building.

The Box Butte County Jail houses 32 inmates, but with the construction project, the population was down to 16 at the time of the interview. Mowry said some of the prisoners had to be transported to Valentine to be held in custody. She did not have an exact cost on the transportation of the inmates, but estimated it to be at least $5,000. She said that there is also some concern for safety as transporting inmates can be dangerous.

“It’s worrisome, let’s just put it that way,” Mowry said.

Mowry hopes that the issues at the Box Butte County Jail will be resolved.

“Right now, I want everything to be fixed that needs to be fixed,” said Mowry. “I’m not one to just keep putting a band-aid on it. What little we do has to be done correctly. This is a big one here. I just want the public to be aware that that’s what’s going on here, on top of everything else.”

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