Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

County Government Week – April 22-28

This week has been designated National County Government Week. The week is set aside to bring recognition to county government – often called the “hidden governmental unit”. This blog is written with the purpose of bringing this hidden governmental unit into the light.

Of recent interest to the general public regarding Nicollet County is the fact that our county jail is overflowing at the seams. We have regularly been housing prisoners in other counties. We have the capacity for 30 plus in our facility. (The number varies depending on the classification of prisoners as some must be separated from others.) For some time – we have housed anywhere from 15 to 20 to sometimes 29 prisoners in neighboring facilities i.e. Brown County and others.

Jails are a part of law enforcement which is a huge part of county government. Costs to run jails and the subsequent criminal justice system are large. The job requires 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The only other job like it when it comes to time commitment is “being a parent”. Here is one example of the cost. The county board approved bills for providing meals yesterday. The costs were: breakfast $2.45, lunch $3.60, dinner $5.19 and sack lunches (for Huber or sentence to serve prisoners) $3.33. There is also a $3.00 delivery charge for each set of meals each day. The meals are meager fare, but these numbers also give a glimpse of the costs of housing prisoners. In a future report, I will share some medical costs. These are horrendous. end


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