The first Arapahoe County Jail was a one-room jail house opened in 1865. The current Arapahoe County Jail was opened in 1987. In 2002, the Arapahoe County Jail was rededicated to honor former Sheriff Patrick J. Sullivan. The almost three hundred thousand square feet facility has the capacity to hold one thousand one hundred sixty six inmates.
The Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility has been recognized by the National Institute of Corrections. The National Institute of Corrections holds The Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility up as a model of direct supervision design. The direct supervision practiced in the Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility allows detention officers to be placed in open day rooms with the inmates in order to facilitate more direct and effective supervision of inmate.
In addition to design elements, the Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility has also been recognized for its programs and features. The televised visitation system was the first of its kind in Colorado. The Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility also features a computer training center.
One of the most praised programs that the Arapahoe County Sheriff Department uses at the Arapahoe County Jail is A-STEP, a work release program for inmates. A collaborative effort between law enforcement, schools, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, mental health facilities, and the District Attorney’s Office has resulted in the Juvenile Assessment Center, which attempts to help youth that are considered at risk.