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Becker County’s bill to board inmates adds to urgency of jail solution

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news Grand Forks, 58203
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- When the numbers are crunched, the Becker County staff sees a real need for a new jail soon.

The county paid $25,000 last month to Hubbard County for housing inmates who won’t fit in Becker County’s facility. Becker is estimated to pay $300,000 to $400,000 a year to Hubbard County. And that doesn’t include transportation costs.

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“It’s costing us a lot more than we originally thought,” Sheriff Kelly Shannon told the County Board on Tuesday.

County Administrator Jack Ingstad expressed to the commissioners that this is a concern and that a need for jail options is pressing.

Besides saving on the cost of housing inmates in Hubbard County, Shannon estimates the county could save 30 percent of its $2 million personnel budget if the jail was laid out better.

With the way the jail is arranged now, more eyes are needed on the rooms and hallways. In a more modern design, there would be a control room at the center and long hallways with unobstructed lines of sight.

The county has been looking at various types of jails that could be built, and one option is a modular facility. Shannon said Douglas County’s jail is a good example of one.

“Douglas County is about mirror to us,” Shannon said, regarding space needs.

A shared, regional facility remains an option as well.

Besides issues with the layout, the Becker County jail received poor grades during a recent review by the Minnesota Department of Corrections, and the county has been trying to remedy some of those deficiencies.

The board approved some of the work required, including light fixtures, stainless-steel toilets, water softener, an upgrade of cameras and television screens for monitoring cameras, and water pipes. About $70,000 has been budgeted for the work.

The board plans to discuss the jail further at its May 13 meeting.

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