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Renville Co. jail adding staff members, sheriff says

OLIVIA — Renville County is adding two full-time correctional officer positions to its jail staff, but will need to add an assistant jail administrator as well, Sheriff Scott Hable told the County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

The sheriff said the jail needs to increase its administrative staffing if it is to comply with state and federal requirements and hold state or federal inmates. The decision to add the two corrections officer positions came after a Minnesota Department of Corrections inspection recommended additional staffing.

A recent informal inspection by a Department of Corrections official resulted in the recommendation to add the assistant administrator position. The jail is meeting requirements for correctional and program staff, but is “significantly short’’ regarding administrative staff, according to the sheriff.

Hable said the official told him that the Minnesota Department of Corrections will be looking to board inmates in county jails later this year. The sheriff said he was told that, with the current staffing situation, that official would not recommend boarding state prisoners in the Renville County Jail.   

Hable said the jail’s inmate population averaged 55 inmates per day last year, and there were days when 60 or more inmates were held. Federal requirements require more administrative staff when the 60-inmate threshold is reached, even if the average daily count is lower.

The jail has 72 beds.

The county currently boards inmates under contract with the federal corrections system as well as inmates from area counties including Redwood and McLeod.

Sheriff Hable recommended that the jail add an assistant administrator to meet the requirements and assure that the county can continue to board inmates from other county, state and federal entities.

The sheriff said the jail’s administrative staff is being overworked and pushed beyond staff members’ limits. “That begs the question of how long that can go on,’’ he said.

There is some financial risk in adding staff, the sheriff acknowledged. There is no way to know if inmate numbers will remain consistent or increase, since many are from out-of-county sources.

“The risk is not doing this, then you can guarantee you are not going to have the prisoners in there we do now,’’ said Commissioner LaMont Jacobson.

Board members are expected to decide on the administrative staffing request at their next meeting.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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