A Special Meeting of the Committee of the Whole , announced by a legal notice in the local papers, convened Tuesday February 23 at 1 p.m., covering several proposals for the County Board to consider and including a power point of information impacting each possible choice.
“This has already been a long process,” commented Sheriff Kelly Lake. “The State of Minnesota has given us a deadline of July 31, 2023 when we can no longer house inmates in our current facility. As it is now in the planning process the goal is to have a jail facility completed by 2024 and will need an extension for short term use of what we have now. The State would have to give us another extension, and we are running out of time.”
After a major jail study and input from several consultants, six possible options have been proposed. At this time, cost estimates are only approximate figures and each option is not set in concrete. No County Board decision has been made favoring any of these options.
The options which are being studied are:
1. No jail in Carlton at all calls for about 24,000 sq feet. Without housing those people arrested, the County still needs a processing site, court appearance, etc. before those arrested are transferred to another facility in the region for longer periods of incarceration. The costs of this option is dependent of finding jail cells and paying for that in other counties. This proposal has 20 – 30 short term holding cells for the type of offenders that come into the Carlton Jail. Operation of this program over 20 years will cost $165,654,852.
2. A 72-hour holding facility with a central processing center would have 40 short-term housing beds and would cost in 20 years $160,001,140.
3. A 90 day holding facility with 20-30 holding beds and an overall 60 beds for housing would cost Carlton County in 20 years $154,888,699.
4. A full jail with central processing center with 20-30 holding beds and a possible 80 bed capacity would cost $151,360,667 approximately in 20 years.
5. An 80 bed jail with central processing would have 20-30 holding beds and have 16 of those beds for a female offender program at a cost of $152,167,199 in 20 years. Although the female offenders are on the rise in the Carlton facility, there is no existing program in the region to address programming for that population. The State of Minnesota is willing to give $2 million to develop a program at the Carlton site but no decision has been made to accept the money.
6. An 80 bed jail with central processing consisting of 20-30 holding beds and 16 beds for female offender programming and 16 beds for male offender programming has an estimated 20 year cost of $150,623,849 approximately.
Paul Coughlin, the current Carlton County Jail Administrator, points out, “There are many details to work out yet and decisions that have to be made by the County Board. Hiring an architect and a construction manager are just now being considered and so all these costs of program and construction are approximate, educated guesses. We as a group and a community have a long road to take before a workable option for Carlton County becomes a reality.”
In this mix of community services and programs that all affect long term jail initiatives on those offenders are:
Release Advanced Planning
Restorative Justice Programs
Mental health screening
Crisis Response Team for mental health issues
Parenting education and skills
Community based coordinator
Yellow Line Project diversion
Stepping Up Initiative
Sheriff Lake summed up this discussion by saying, “Cost of the facility is a concern but the success of offenders going back into the community with this new approach of programming is also very important to the safety of the community we serve.”
The County Committee of the Whole will be having a second meeting a month just to update everyone on the progress and new information available on the building of a new jail. The meeting will be on the third Monday of the month which makes the next meeting on March 15 at 2 p.m. at the Transportation Building. These meetings are open to the public.