The plot thickens in search for jail space
Different information seems to be coming on a regular basis. Facts seem to be changing regularly. Options seem to be growing. "It's a moving target," Jail Consultant Allan Brinkman said. That how the contracted Becker County jail consultant and c...
Different information seems to be coming on a regular basis. Facts seem to be changing regularly. Options seem to be growing.
“It’s a moving target,” Jail Consultant Allan Brinkman said.
That how the contracted Becker County jail consultant and county commissioners described Tuesday’s discussion on what to do about Becker County’s jail shortcomings.
Earlier this month, commissioners met with Hubbard County commissioners to talk about the possibility of housing jail inmates in Hubbard County, an idea both counties favored. It sounded promising until Brinkman brought another option to the commissioners Tuesday at the regular board meeting.
Brinkman told commissioners that he had just learned that Tri-County Community Corrections (Polk, Norman and Red Lake counties) Jail, located in Crookston, has offered to house Becker County inmates as well.
He said that Tri-County also takes care of all transportation back and forth between counties, and they can house women inmates as well.
Tri-County asks for a two-year contract for a certain number of beds. So, if Becker County contracts for 15 beds, for example, the county would pay for those 15 beds whether they are being used or not.
Commissioner Barry Nelson said it would have been nice to have that option a month ago rather than just this week.
Commissioner Ben Grimsley said that Becker County needs to capitalize on Hubbard County’s willingness to be neighborly and board Becker County’s inmates.
Brinkman made a suggestion to the commissioners that before Becker County moves too quickly into transporting inmates, a meeting should be held with all those involved to discuss what’s needed and what the best solution would be. Those in the meeting should include people from the sheriff’s office, county attorney’s office, judges, human services and Department of Corrections.
“There are so many more people involved than people realize,” Becker County Sheriff Kelly Shannon said.
Brinkman said that “logistics questions” have to be answered. A couple of the concerns of regularly transporting inmates include missed court dates and other appointments.
With more people involved, there are more questions to be answered, but it needs to be done, he added.
He said another thing to consider is that even if inmates were housed elsewhere, the county would still need short-term jail space for those going to court that day and busy weekends (like WE Fest for example) where space is needed to get through the excess arrests made over a busy time.
With that said, some remodeling has to be done to the Becker County Jail, and it would need to be staffed as well.
That is one of the issues of having the courts and jail in separate towns, he said.
Commissioner Barry Nelson said that he is not in favor of building a new jail, but that there is a “need to push this agenda” of housing inmates in Hubbard County at least for the short-term.
“We will be dollars ahead in the long run” if Becker County partners with Hubbard County, he said.
Commissioner Larry Knutson said that no scenario can be off the table at this point, though.
Brinkman said that even if a new jail was started in Becker County today, it would be two years until it was up and running, so the county needs a short-term solution, too.
Some commissioners said they would like to move forward with a contract with Hubbard County to house the excess inmates.
“I think that’s the best thing for the county,” Grimsley said.
Commissioner Don Skarie said a cost comparison study should be done that includes the Tri-County option.
Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield .