St. Louis Co. Jail Overcrowded, Co. Board Working to Fix Costly Issue

By KBJR News 1

St. Louis Co. Jail Overcrowded, Co. Board Working to Fix Costly Issue

February 19, 2013 Updated Feb 19, 2013 at 7:34 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Over the past decade, the St. Louis County jail has exceeded its capacity every year—from 10% in the early 90s to a whopping 50% by 2011.

In contrast, most Minnesota counties have their fair share of unused beds.

A recent study by the Arrowhead Regional Corrections Advisory Board highlights these concerns.

"Right now we're spending over a million dollars a year housing inmates in other counties' jails," said Fifth District Board Commissioner Pete Stauber, following Tuesday's hearing in regard to the study findings.

Stauber says progress is still being made in understanding the "why's" of the situation: "[for example], we know that the jail is not too small."

But the solution, says Stauber, will come from collaborating with those on the front lines, including police officers, Sheriff's deputies and the county jail staff.

"I think that we have the people at the table right now to make it work," said Stauber.

Stauber says the concept of making it work benefits not only the taxpayers, who shoulder the burden of an overcrowded jail, but for the inmates who are housed there.

"[We need to] make sure that we have the ability to bring these clients out into the public, and be crime free," said Stauber.

The 5th District Commissioner says he feels confident about the board finding these cost–effective solutions before the end of the year.

One possible solution highlighted by the study is housing inmates within the county, at the Northeast Regional Corrections Center, which has been operating at less than capacity for over a year and a half.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness