Jail move in motion

Published 7:46 am Friday, December 31, 2010

Mower County’s jailers and inmates will celebrate the New Year in the new jail.

After inmates were transferred from the old jail Monday, jailers and staff turned their focus to a smooth start during the first days in the new facility.

“There’s still some bugs to be worked out, but nothing that’s a security risk,” said Chief Deputy Mark May.

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About 40 inmates were transferred to the new 128 bed facility starting Monday morning around 6 a.m. About 42 more inmates boarded in Steele County are still being transferred to the jail.

Sometime next year, female inmates boarded at other jails will be brought to Mower County, according to May.

The jailers are becoming acclimated to a new, more direct style jail. Fewer jailers are needed to run the facility. In the two special management pods — one male and one female — one jailer can monitor the areas within the entire unit from an enclosed station.

In the direct supervision housing unit, jail staff will be in the day room with the inmates monitoring them through face-to-face supervision.

Even after training in similar jails, it will take time for jailers to be 100 percent used to the new facility. However, May said they’re off to a good start.

“So far, it sounds like it’s going really well,” he said.

The new facility is going to affect more people than the inmates and the jailers. Police officers and sheriff’s deputies will have to get used to booking people in the new facility. Likewise, deputies from other counties will transfer inmates to the new building.

“It’s a little adjustment for everybody,” May said.

The move isn’t finished, as May said Mower County’s jail could soon start housing female inmates from other counties, which would bring in money to the county to supplement the sheriff’s budget.

Boarding inmates from other county jails is quite a shift for Mower County, which has been paying to board inmates in other jails.

May said monthly checks for boarding inmates were around $50,000 a month.

The move was first scheduled for October or November, but the move was pushed back to ensure jailers and staff were properly trained.

Sheriff Terese Amazi also updated and altered many of the jail’s operating policies.