DOC orders Ramsey Co. jail to reduce capacity, cites multiple violations

For the second time this week, the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) has ordered a county jail to reduce capacity, citing multiple violations.

Friday, the DOC ordered the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center to submit a capacity reduction plan by the end of the day Monday.

It comes after the department said it investigated a complaint regarding multiple licensing rule violations stemming from inadequate staffing levels at the jail. Those violations included the facility’s refusal to take inmates to get offsite emergency medical care.

“As the state’s licensing authority, any risk to the life and safety of those in custody must be addressed immediately,” DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell said. “When the stakes are this high, taking decisive action quickly is a must.”

Those impacted included a person who suffered a stroke, another who’d ingested drugs, someone who had just been in a car accident and a person who was bleeding for two hours without medical attention, the DOC says.

The DOC says its investigation determined the Ramsey County jail’s failure to meet minimum staffing levels “poses an imminent risk of life-threatening harm or serious injury to individuals within the facility.”

According to the department’s order, DOC’s inspection of the Ramsey County jail in November showed the failure to meet minimum staffing requirements, which led DOC to direct the county to submit a staffing plan by the end of 2022. On Dec. 30, 2022, the jail sent in its plan and said it was meeting required staffing levels. However, an audit determined 12 shifts failed to meet staffing levels from Jan. 7-25, 2023.

“Ramsey County ADC has a long-documented history of failing to comply with the requirements of Rule 2911.5000, subp. 5 by failing to conduct timely and appropriate well-being checks of those in its custody,” DOC’s order says in part.

That order now will reduce the 500-bed Ramsey County jail’s approved capacity to 360 inmates — and its operational bed capacity to 324 inmates — until the end of November unless changed sooner by DOC.

RELATED: DOC orders Beltrami Co. Jail to reduce capacity after multiple violations

It all comes after DOC ordered a similar capacity reduction for Beltrami County’s jail on Monday, also due to multiple violations of minimum staffing levels.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher released a statement saying he shares DOC’s concerns and needs the county board to take action to address overcrowding.

“I share the DOC’s concerns about overcrowding in the Ramsey County Jail. It’s something I’ve been actively trying to draw attention to. And it was totally predictable, caused by significant increases in crime, massive backlogs in the criminal justice system, and a nationwide worker shortage.

“That’s why we’ve been aggressively recruiting and hiring corrections officers while at the same time asking County Commissioners for resources and support. Specifically, we need to make better use of other facilities such as the Ramsey County Workhouse.

“Like I’ve been saying for weeks and Commissioner Schnell echos: This can’t wait. We need the County Board to take action to address the jail overcrowding.

“In the meantime, we’ll keep working with the limited staff and support we have to keep inmates safe.”

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher

DOC’s full order to Ramsey County, which details more of the violations, can be found below or by clicking here.