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Jails

From Brigham City History Project

In 1900, Brigham City was still renting rooms in the old Box Elder County Jail, but the quarters were inadequate, both in size and condition. In 1904, for example, Marshal Carter reported to City Council that “the stove in the city jail is unsafe.”[1] Brigham City requested “additional cells in the county jail” in 1907, but the Box Elder News reported that the County Commission had “denied the request for another room, but had tendered them use of the jail for city prisoners.”[2]

Although initial plans for the fire station and city hall had included jail cells, they were evidently not included when the building was actually constructed, not even those main floor cells set aside for the more “respectable” drunks. In just one quarter, during the fall of 1910, the city marshal reported 48 arrests, 33 being hobos, although how many or how long they occupied cells was not included.[3] The “matter of repairing the city jail and improving same was discussed” and Councilman Valentine was appointed to confer with the County Commission.

The County Commission had plans of their own:

At the regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners held last Tuesday plans for a new modern jail were submitted by the Pauly Jail Co. of St Louis and carefully considered by the commissioners. The plans include a handsome residence for the sheriff, jailer or whoever may be designated to occupy it, with splendid jail accommodations in a building in the rear . . .[4]

The residence would be linked by a hallway to the Sheriff’s office, where “the visitor is introduced to the jail proper” as he steps from the hall into a corridor surrounding a tier of six steel cells, each cell supplied with two bunks, hot and cold water, and a lavatory. The guards corridor was to be four feet wide by 39 feet on the east side of the cells, and 3 feet wide across the south end. On the north end would be located the automatic lock which will either lock or open cells. The same article noted that “in case the county should erect a new one and the idea was not opposed by the city dads anyone desiring to inspect the plans will undoubtedly have the privilege by calling upon county clerk Ipsen at his office.”

The county decided to reconstruct its current jail, but not to continue sharing quarters with Brigham City, so the City Council pressed ahead on its own. A Box Elder News headline reading “City Will Construct a Jail” confirmed its progress in 1914:

Brigham City has purchased from W. H. Glover a piece of ground having a frontage of 50 feet and a depth of 60 feet, facing the alley back of the National Bank Building and just west of the cement house erected by Mr. Samsel. It is the intention of the city to erect a jail on the property which will be equipped with offices for the police department and every part of the building will be modern and convenient. The County Commission have decided to remodel the present county jail and fix it up to modern standards, so the city was compelled to do something for itself. Efforts were made to have the county erect a new jail east of the courthouse and sell the present property to the city.[5]

It was noted that the right of way through the block would be upgraded, cleaned up and transformed into “a beautiful driveway.” Work would begin soon, and by July it was noted that the city jail was going up, with T. W. Whitaker as contractor.

Work on the two jails proceeded almost concurrently, perhaps a bit competitively, from the tone of articles. In June, 1914, the Box Elder News announced that the county jail would be remodeled, during which time Box Elder County would house its prisoners in the Weber County Jail.

Plans for the County Jail, located east and south of the Court House, called for steel cages and other steel fixtures, a row of steel cells, six in number north to south. The new cells would be 5 x 7 feet, equipped with a bunk and toilet, opening on the north to a 5 x 33 foot corridor, with table and fixtures for serving meals. The jail floor would have an additional 3 inches of concrete. The old building “previously used by the city jail and for a county hospital” would be fitted up for a sick room, with the south room a padded cell for violent subjects.[6]

Meanwhile, work on the city jail progressed rapidly, and by October its near completion was reported, reporting the building as:

Quite an imposing structure, the front being constructed of brick and the sides and north end of concrete. All the cells are of reinforced concrete, top, bottom, and sides, making it practically impossible for a person to dig out. Each cell is supplied with a wash basin and toilet, a steel chair fastened to the wall and a steel bed also attached to the wall in such a manner that it can be folded up and out of the way. The doors are steel and equipped with a barrel window through which the officer can communicate with a person and pass food to him without going into the cell. There are 3 separate cells and a large “hobo” and drunk room ...

The description adds: “in the front at the right is a cozy room for the marshal’s office, equipped with a lavatory” and on the opposite side a store room for confiscated materials, etc. The northeast large room would be for city supplies for the electric and water department, a heating plant in basement, also a storeroom. Altogether, the jail was hailed as “A big improvement over the old quarters which the city had in the old county jail.”[7]


Notes

  1. Box Elder News, September 26, 1904.
  2. Box Elder News, March 5, 1907.
  3. Box Elder News, November 23, 1910.
  4. Box Elder News, September 4, 1913.
  5. Box Elder News, April 16, 1914.
  6. Box Elder News, “County Jail Being Reconstructed,” June 4, 1914.
  7. Box Elder News, “Jail Nearly Completed,” October 22, 1914.


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