Freeborn Co. jail to begin housing DOC inmates

Published 10:12 am Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Freeborn County jail’s inmate population is slated to expand March 1 with an agreement passed Tuesday between the county and the Minnesota Department of Corrections. 

Kurt Freitag

Kurt Freitag

The agreement allows the county jail to house DOC inmates classified as low-risk offenders to help alleviate crowding in the state’s prison system.

Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag said he is hoping to start off with about 20 inmates. The county will be paid $55 per inmate, per day.

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Freitag said he pursued the agreement in part because of the reduced number of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees being held in Freeborn County. The last he had heard there were only a little over 40 ICE detainees in the jail.

In 2010, there were an average of 76 ICE detainees each day in the jail, according to Tribune records.

The county has been housing ICE detainees since 2009.

“I want to supplement those numbers with DOC so we can get some more revenue created with our facility,” he said.

The Freeborn County jail is licensed to house 148 inmates, but its operating capacity is 133. One of the reasons the county pursued the ICE agreement in the first place was to utilize some of the jail space.


Other Sheriff’s Office changes

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday gave Freitag authorization to hire two additional transport deputies, who will also double as courtroom security.

“Right now our courtroom security is lacking,” Freitag said. “It has been lacking, and we can’t effectively pull off courtroom security with one guy.”

He said prior to him taking office, former Sheriff Bob Kindler and Emergency Management Director Rich Hall met with Freeborn County District Court judges Steve Schwab and Ross Leuning and the court administrator about their concerns with courtroom security.

After hearing stories that the judges do not feel safe in their own courtrooms and remembering the Cook County Courthouse shootings, he said he also plans to purchase two sets of lockers to be outside of the courtrooms, where a deputy will instruct people attending court to place their coats and belongings during the court proceedings. Each locker will have a key that the person using it will have access to.

Freitag said the hiring of the two new transport deputies — who will be licensed peace officers but at a lower pay grade than patrol deputies — will free up a patrol deputy to be back on the road.