County’s jail population spikes along with related lock up costs
Dodge County’s jail population jumped more than 25 percent in 2015, costing taxpayers about a half of million dollars to keep criminals locked up.
The jail census jumped to 22 last year from 16 the previous year, according to Sheriff Scott Rose. Criminals from Dodge County are housed at the Steele County Detention Center in Owatonna as Dodge does not have a jail. Steele County charges $55 per day for each inmate.
Because of the spike in prisoners, Dodge went over budget by nearly $150,000 last year and spent around $500,000 to hold inmates outside of the county. In addition to lock up costs, the county also has related costs of deputy transport time and transportation.
Despite the high cost, Rose maintains it’s a cheaper alternative than having a jail in the county. He said some of the smallest jails in Minnesota, which house 25 prisoners, cost at least $1 million to operate each year.
“Taking all of our costs into account, we’re half of that,” Rose said. “That’s certainly a good use of taxpayer dollars.”
Rose said the county has never looked at building a jail, and with good reason. “It’s cost prohibitive,” he said. “With the medical and legal liabilities, it doesn’t make any sense for us to do anything different. It’s a big headache both financially and otherwise,” he added.
Rose calls the arrangement with Steele County a “win-win for us.” Steele officials, he said, have been really good to work with and they bend over backwards to help Dodge.
The sharp increase in jail lock-ups, Rose said, can be attributed to several factors. He said the county is seeing the impact of a different judge on the bench. Judge Jodi Williamson took over in late 2013. “She is very willing to hold people accountable,” Rose said.