Carlton County Seeks $40 Million For A New Jail

CARLTON, Minn. – Carlton County is seeking nearly $40 million from local option sales tax to build a new jail.

This comes after an aging facility and the growing inmate population is creating a need for more space.

It has caught the attention of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, which is recommending the facility close its doors if a solution isn’t found.

Carlton County’s jail was built in 1979.

According to the national institute of corrections, the average life span for a jail is 30 years.

The Carlton county jail was originally built to hold up to 24 inmates.

In 1980, a year after being built Carlton County added an addtional 24 beds in the facility to increase capacity.

But after more than 40 years of usage, much of the infrastructure and technology has become outdated.

Carlton County officials say putting more money into maintenance no longer makes sense

“There’s a cost associated with doing all that work. It’s a cost we are not going to recuperate,” said County Coordinator Dennis Genereau. “It’s the old adage would you put a brand new engine in a vehicle that has 300,000 miles on it, knowing you are only going to get another 20,000 out of it. No, you wouldn’t. You would never invest that kind of money into it.”

The $40 million total is an estimate from a study conducted of what it may cost to have a facility to accommodate the growing need for jail space.

The daily average inmate population is more than 26 and over the years it has been as high as 80.

At this rate, the typical inmate count is only expected to grow.

“We are seeing more serious crimes. We are also seeing an increase in violence and mental health issues. All of that is creating unique issues that this facility just was not designed for.”

The female inmate population has also grown.

Carlton County has also requested $3 million from the state legislature to help plan and design a female offender program.

This would allow female inmates to be appropriately housed in the new jail.

The Department of Corrections has recommended a sunset for the facility, which means it would no longer be licensed to operate as a jail.

If that were to happen, Carlton County would still be responsible for the intake of inmates.

They would have to be transported to surrounding facilities, but many nearby jails are already at capacity.

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