Inmates decrease in county jail

Published 8:47 pm Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Freeborn County jail is seeing a decrease in the number of inmates held as part of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agreement.

Freeborn County Sheriff Bob Kindler said though there is typically a downturn in the number of inmates during the winter months, he thinks other factors have also played a role, including talk in Washington about immigration reform and the anticipation of the sequester.

“We’re still doing the best job we can,” Kindler said. “We can’t control the numbers, and at this point we’re not too worried.”

Bob Kindler

Bob Kindler

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He said the jail started seeing a decrease in the number of inmates in December, and as of this week, there were an average of 50 ICE detainees daily.

In 2012, the jail averaged about 70 detainees on any given day.

Freeborn County is paid $77 per day per detainee held in the facility, and in 2012 the contract brought in about $2.16 million.

The county entered into the agreement with ICE officials in March of 2009 to boost the number of inmates in the jail toward its 122-person capacity. The agreement called for the jail to house up to 80 inmates at any given time, and 12 additional staff were brought on initially to handle the additional jail population.

The jail services ICE for southern Minnesota, northern Iowa and surrounding areas as needed.

Kindler said with the lower number of inmates, the county still is making enough money to cover the cost of increased staffing, and he is figuring out what the minimum number of inmates the jail would have to have to break even.

“We want to remain a very viable option for ICE as a place to house their inmates,” he said. “We have to focus on doing the best we can.”