Minnehaha County Jail expansion approved

Published: Nov. 22, 2016 at 4:12 PM CST
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The Minnehaha County Commission has approved a $46 million bond issue that will help expand the downtown county jail.

When construction is done - the jail will be able to house an additional 320 inmates.

Tuesday's vote was four years in the making for Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead.

"For four years, the commission and the sheriff's office and others have done their due diligence to make sure we knew how to replace that Correction Center," said Milstead.

Tuesday morning the Minnehaha County Commission took a critical step in finalizing a deal that will expand the county's jail.

"We are already full. We are already maxing out our secure jail beds and moving people that should be in secure jail beds out to the Community Correction Center in to low-risk housing," added Milstead.

The new facility will connect to the east side of the existing Minnehaha County jail in downtown Sioux Falls.

The expansion was originally slighted to add 400 new maximum security jail beds, but because of the county's alternatives to incarceration, the number of beds was reduced to 320.

"Every arrow points to this needing to be done. Every arrow points to we need to have secure jail beds for our higher risk offenders that we now house, while at the same time we recognize alternatives to incarceration," stated Milstead.

Right now, inmates are processed in and out at intake, but in the new jail, the process will be handled separately.

"It was very apparent and we've known that our intake area is pretty small, pretty cramped. It worked great when we were doing about 9,000 or so bookings a year, now we're doing 18 to close to 20,000 bookings a year," said Minnehaha County jail warden Jeff Gromer.

Gromer said the expansion is essential and will fit all the needs of the county.

"When we get the knew one designed and finalized, it's going to be far safer for both the inmates that are coming and the staff that are working there, and the community as a whole," added Gromer.

Sheriff Milstead says if everything goes smoothly, the new addition could be open in three years.

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