Ramsey County officials to address overcrowding at jail following reported violations

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that Ramsey County Officials will meet Monday to discuss issues at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center. Officials say they will discuss solutions during their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday. The article has been updated to reflect this change.

Ramsey County officials say they will meet on Tuesday to find ways to fix overcrowding in the adult detention center, following orders from the Department of Corrections.

The DOC launched an investigation after receiving health and safety complaints about the jail.

The department is now ordering the county officials to reduce capacity, noting the failure to meet minimum staffing levels poses an imminent risk of life-threatening harm or serious injury.

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

In the report, the DOC cited four violations that break multiple state laws. It also states that the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center must submit a capacity-reduction plan to the Department of Corrections by the close of business on Monday, Feb. 6.

“Our public health staff sent multiple letters to the sheriff’s office and his team with these concerns, raising the issues,” said Ramsey County Commissioner Trista Matascastillo. “It really was from a lack of response or adequate response to actually address it so we decided to self-report to the Department of Corrections.”

Matascastillo said Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher brought to their attention last fall the jail was overcrowded.

She said action was taken and they reduced the population in the jail by about 70 people.

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

On Sunday night, Sheriff Fletcher released another statement regarding the order:

“I share the concerns about overcrowding in our jails. In fact, it’s an issue we’ve tried to raise with the county board for months and months, including as far back as last May.

Overcrowding isn’t a new problem. It’s part of a nationwide trend and entirely predictable, caused by significant increases in crime, massive backlogs in the criminal justice system and a nationwide worker shortage.

We’ve been working hard to address the issue by aggressively recruiting and hiring corrections officers while at the same time trying to work with our county commissioners on solutions — like making better use of the Ramsey County workhouse, that’s only using 25 percent of its capacity.

We haven’t gotten there yet, but I’m heartened to see the board ready to take the challenge seriously and looking forward to working with them on a permanent solution. In the meantime, we’ll be moving some inmates to other secure facilities throughout Minnesota.  No inmates will be released.