Beltrami County Board to receive jail feasibility study report Aug. 24

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Aug. 19—BEMIDJI — The

Beltrami County Board of Commissioners

is set to receive the final report for the Beltrami County Jail Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study at a special work session at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24, in the County Board Room.

"The Beltrami County Jail has experienced many challenges over the years and the County has been working with the National Institute of Corrections, the Department of Corrections, and the community to establish a plan moving forward to address them," a release said.

The challenges faced include severe housing capacity limitations, an inability for the jail to meet Department of Corrections jail design standards and an increase in needs for mental health and chemical dependency resources.

Further challenges include jail staff recruiting and retention impediments due to working conditions, elevated movement and safety liabilities due to current design limitations and outdated and aging building infrastructure, the release said.

In 2019, Beltrami County entered into an agreement with the Department of Corrections to begin the process of evaluating the county's options by studying the facility's limitations and compliance obligations.

The county issued a request for proposal in December 2021 for a Jail Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study, to conduct evaluations on the facility and develop a future programming projection model and infrastructure projection model.

Justice Planners LLC was

hired to conduct the study

and has been collecting data on jail populations, jail bookings, inmate demographics, court proceedings, arrest data, probation data and mental health data for the past six months.

In February, Justice Planners conducted three days of interviews with the jail project committees, jail and sheriff administration, county commissioners, local law enforcement agencies, county and city attorney's offices, Beltrami County Health and Human Services, county judges, county court administration, county public defenders, Minnesota Department of Corrections and Beltrami County Management Information Systems.

Justice Planners also conducted a tour of the jail to assess the building's design, layout and functionality, the release said.

The special work session to go over the final report on Wednesday, Aug. 24, is open to the public, but there will be no public comment period.

Following the meeting, the public is invited to comment on the findings at


Only comments submitted through the county's website will be presented to the board for consideration, the release said.

A public hearing regarding the feasibility study will be held at 5 p.m. on Sept. 22 in the County Board Room.

All comments submitted to the county's website between Aug. 25 and Sept. 21 will be documented and a summary will be provided to the board at the hearing. The public is encouraged to attend the hearing and comment in person also.