Ideas to Lower Jail Costs

Posted at: 02/19/2013 7:04 PM
Updated at: 02/19/2013 8:19 PM

Taxpayers in St. Louis County have paid nearly $12 million dollars over the past 12 years, to pay for the overcrowding in the jail.

Inmates often have to spend their time in other regional jails, because they can't fit in the one in Duluth. The operating capacity of the jail is 170.

A study done this fall shows there are solutions to helping cut down on the overcrowding.

St. Louis County Commissioners discussed the study at a workshop on Tuesday.

Kay Arola, Executive Director of Arrowhead Regional Corrections, said some of the ideas in the study are already being implemented.

One is a closer look at how probation evaluates probation violations. According to the study, many people violate probation, and end up back in jail.

A new program in Hibbing called the Range Alternative Sanction Program is a special caseload of people who've allegedly violated their probation, but can end up paying other penalties instead of going to jail. This works for only certain clients.

Another idea suggested by the study is to house sentenced inmates to NERCC, Northeast Regional Corrections Center. Some inmates are staying there now, but there would be needed upgrades before it could be considered a medium-security facility for sentenced offenders.

The county leaders said this will be a group effort, between stakeholders like the judges, probation, and others to make a dent in the overcrowding price tag.