Beltrami County Jail Ordered to Reduce Inmate Capacity by 39%
The Beltrami County Jail has been ordered to reduce its inmate capacity from 132 to 80 after the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) found inadequate staffing at the jail created conditions that pose an imminent risk of life-threatening, hard, or serious physical injury to individuals confined or incarcerated in the facility.
The DOC said in a press release that a quick decision to reduce the capacity was made after they received a complaint stemming from a January 24, 2023 incident where emergency medical care was delayed after a suicide attempt.
“As the licensing authority, out of immediate concern for the safety of both staff and the people in custody, I’ve ordered the Beltrami County Jail to reduce the licensed capacity of the facility,” DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell said. “When life safety is an issue, we must take swift and decisive action,” Schnell added.
While investigating the complaint, the DOC discovered multiple violations of minimum staffing levels, attempts to prevent medical transport for emergency care and delay of medical transport for emergency care — despite direction from medical staff that the care was clinically indicated. These violations are in direct violation of the state’s jail standards.
Additionally, the DOC’s ongoing investigation has identified multiple instances in which the Beltrami County Jail staff failed to conduct timely well-being checks and that those well-being checks were not in compliance immediately preceding the suicide attempt that occurred on January 24, 2023.
Under the order, the Beltrami County Jail’s approved capacity is reduced to 80 inmates and its operational bed capacity is reduced to 72 inmates from January 27, 2023 until May 31, 2024 or until further order by the DOC.
The Beltrami County Jail must begin to immediately reduce the facility population to comply with the capacity limits imposed by this order.
Beltrami County Sheriff Jason Riggs told Lakeland News it’s not clear yet whether they could increase inmate capacity in the future if they are able to increase staffing to adequate levels.
Riggs says the current jail’s multi-tiered construction with several levels increases the need for staffing due to the number of levels. He says that style of facility is outdated and the new jail the county is planning on building in the future would not be built that way.