Homeless woman assaulted; assailant cited and released due to being too drunk for jail

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: The $25 million Graham County Adult Detention Facility is the crown jewel for the county’s law enforcement, yet it is not able to house severely intoxicated prisoners.

By Jon Johnson


SAFFORD – Thanks to Graham County voters, the area has the new Graham County Adult Detention Facility, which is the pride of the county’s law enforcement community. However, one thing the facility lacks is a holding area for intoxicated individuals and staffing to secure their safety.

According to a Safford Police report, Sonny Jones was arrested for assault Nov. 27 but was given a citation for assault and released rather than booked into the jail due to his level of intoxication. Jones allegedly pushed a homeless woman to the ground and kicked her while they and others camped out behind the Valley Motel. The victim was transported to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center for treatment.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: The new jail facility uses mostly dormitory housing to support up to 300 inmates.

The $25 million 68,000-square-foot Graham County Adult Detention Facility (50-000-square-feet of usable building space) replaced the old 8,500-square-foot jail and opened in November 2017. The facility is being paid for by a jail district sales tax that began July 1, 2015, and is expected to be in effect until July 1, 2040. The half-cent sales tax passed by just 63 votes out of nearly 7,000 cast in the November 2014 election.

The new detention facility features three security levels of multi-floor housing units and has a recreation yard for each housing unit with individual recreation yards for each of the four maximum security cell units. The recreation yards are encircled by 13-foot concrete-filled block walls with a rubber-coated steel mesh ceiling. The interior of the jail features a one-foot concrete ceiling (before roofing materials) as well as solid concrete walls throughout.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: The facility sports a top-notch medical area.

While the jail’s purpose is to house inmates either awaiting a resolution to cases or those ordered for a short stay, it also has multiple facilities to assist the inmates, including classroom facilities with a smart board and a medical room complete with a laboratory, pharmacy, lockdown room for contagions and exam rooms.

However, the one thing the facility is lacking is a drunk tank, where those who are too intoxicated to be in public or the general population of the jail are sent. Instead, those who are too intoxicated are either given rides to their residences, the hospital or in the case of homeless suspects, simply released back into the community.