Sheriff ends Sunday bond hearings at jail
In a move that will extend weekend stays at the Mesa County Jail for some inmates, Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said Sunday morning bond hearings will be suspended effective immediately.
Hilkey said concerns over security for the Sunday hearings — which were being held in the public lobby of the sheriff’s office — prompted the changes. The decision means anyone jailed between Friday night through late Saturday now won’t have a chance to post bond until hearings on Monday at the Mesa County Justice Center.
“We were trying to use on-duty deputies to do it (provide security), which became impractical because of 911 calls,” Hilkey said.
The lobby, at 215 Rice St., had been converted into a makeshift courtroom for bond hearings every Sunday except for holidays, while the county paid a magistrate judge to make the bond decisions. In 2012, Mesa County paid $7,200 for the magistrate’s services, according to county figures.
Officials this past summer raised concerns about security, citing an inability to properly screen attendees, including family or relatives of those arrested, for weapons. District Attorney Pete Hautzinger told Mesa County commissioners in July the hearings were “a kangaroo court.”
Hilkey said they explored the possibility of moving the Sunday hearings to the Mesa County Justice Center, while hiring private security as Mesa County judges would be asked to cover them on a rotating basis. Those plans were ultimately rejected, he said. The decision announced Wednesday comes nearly six months after the Mesa County Jail recorded a high of 432 inmates, the highest one-day total for the 21-year-old facility.