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December 19, 2012 06:03 PM

Work Release Center Could Move

sioux falls, sd

Minnehaha County's work release facility could be on the move. Consultants with the National Institute of Corrections have been in town for the past two days assessing the needs for the county jail.

Two ideas they are recommending are to come up with alternative programs to ease crowding at the current jail and relocate the work release facility.

The old Elks Club has been the county's work release facility for nearly 20 years.  Its age and design has the county looking at its options. 

"So probably the building made for a better Elks Lodge than it makes for Community Corrections, but you did a good job of utilizing it, but I think maybe its days have for moving on," consultant with National Institute of Corrections Dennis Liebert said.

On Wednesday, consultants gave law enforcement and county officials some ideas on how to ease the crowding at the current jail and to replace the work release center.

"It's on four and a half acres on a golf course across the street from the new Events Center and the timing is probably right to consider what other options are," Minnehaha County sheriff Mike Milstead said.

The old Elks Club was never designed to hold inmates. Right now some inmates have to walk past a boiler room to get to their beds. The sheriff says a new facility could provide more space and a safer environment for both the inmates and staff.

And because of its location, the county has restrictions on what kind of inmates can be housed there.

The consultants also suggested coming up with alternative programs as opposed to jail time to help ease crowding; like community service.

The sheriff likes that idea because it would save taxpayer dollars.

"Why not have them do community service, painting picnic tables, cleaning the fairgrounds or wherever it may be and then go home," Milstead said. "That way we aren't paying for their lodging, paying for their medical care, their meals and it's much cheaper to operate a program like that and they're still held accountable because they are doing a community service."

The consultants say if the county does decide to relocate the work release facility, the entire process could take three to four years.

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