A Jail and Justice System Assessment for the Fillmore County jail was underway from May 15th to May 17th.
The results of that assessment are in, and it's been found that the jail has a number of inadequacies.
It was about a year ago that an inmate escaped from the Fillmore County Jail, and that's been blamed on a mistake by jail staff, but the layout of the jail doesn't help.
A federal agency called the National Institute of Corrections is now involved trying to provide a factual assessment and some help to guide local officials on what to do.
The assessors, Mark Martin and Julia Hughes, conducted the assessment at the request of the Fillmore County Sheriff's Office.
The inadequacies of the jail in Preston are mostly structural, but those structural deficiencies lead to challenges, in terms of staffing.
Somewhat of a ripple effect, if you will.
The jail is aged, worn-out and obsolete with inadequate equipment for current use.
With a layout and design, including lack of adequate space, that causes operational and staff challenges.
So, moving forward, what do these findings mean?
Martin and Hughes recommend continuing discussion for new jail construction or expansion to fit current and future incarceration needs; Visiting other new facilities to get a sense of what's required in contemporary jails; and supporting continued development of community sanctioning and supervision options.
Here is the Jail and Justice System Assessment Summary:
--The jail is an aged, worn out and obsolete facility. Building systems and equipment are worn or wearing out, unreliable, and/or inadequate for the current level of use;
--The physical plant design and some operational issues present several serious safety and security concerns;
--The building's inefficient layout and design cause operational and staff challenges;
--A general lack of appropriate housing prevents staff from adequately managing separate inmate populations by classification, custody level, and other management needs;
--A lack of adequate intake and release area space and functionality challenges one of the most intense and high-stress operations in the jail;
--Inmate services such as laundry, housekeeping, medical, and other programs and staff support have inadequate space and functionality;
--The lack of multiple recreation spaces and space for indoor recreation doesn't meet jail standards and poses operational challenges with some populations and during inclement weather;
--Overall, the jail has inadequate storage space for inmate and staff needs;
--The jail has a general lack of ADA accessibility throughout.
Here are the recommendations put forth from Martin and Hughes in the report:
--Key officials of the Fillmore County justice system and county government should continue discussions to determine the need for new jail construction and/or expansion to address current and future incarceration needs.
--The County and local justice system should support continued development of community sanctioning and supervision options through probation and pre-trial programming.
--Attend the NIC PONI Program and take advantage of any follow-up assistance which might be available.
--Visit other new facilities of similar size and scope to get a sense of what is required in contemporary detention facilities and operations.