Overcrowding, revenue issues for Minnehaha County Jail - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Overcrowding, revenue issues for Minnehaha County Jail

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Changes could be coming to those who need to spend some time in the Minnehaha County Jail.

Renting out bed space at the jail has been a money-maker for the county.

But overcrowding is causing some financial strain.

A lack of bed space could cost Minnehaha County the chance to make some extra money.

The county rents out bed space to other counties across the state.

Charged at a rate of $80 a night per inmate -- the cost of accommodations here at the county jail can mean big bucks.

Minnehaha County Jail Warden Darin Young thinks it's time for criminal justice reform to come to the county. That means finding ways to keep some people out of jail while making room for others. "We would like to use our tax dollars most efficiently by expanding this program and giving relief by bringing those inmates out to a more desirable and appropriate facility."

Minnehaha County currently bills Lincoln County about a half-million dollars for accommodating it's inmates. But Lincoln Sheriff Dennis Johnson says it's almost a bargain considering the alternative. "If we didn't have a contract with Minnehaha County, out only option would be to look elsewhere, farther out or build our own jail."

Warden Darin Young tells us, the county wants to make sure it has enough of those beds to rent out to keep revenue coming in. "Part of the reason we're looking at this is the crowding we've had. The count has been going up. Our rental beds have been going down. The county relies on that revenue and our revenue has been dropping dramatically the last few years."

And Young also adds, the county is looking at drug court and work release programs as a way of keeping non-violent criminals out of jail. "The governor's plan will also have an effect on out crowding. So we need to be had of the game and be looking at this. There is a right time to do this and we feel this is the right time to start looking at this. This process will take some time as well."

Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead presented this report to county commissioners today to outline some of these issues.

The next step will be for the county to put together a committee to look at finding solutions.

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