Houston County Jail can now house female prisoners

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

The Houston County Jail will be allowed to house adult female prisoners and it won’t cost the county an arm and a leg to do so.

Sheriff Doug Ely and Jail Administrator Mark Schiltz informed the county board the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) has revised the regulations pertaining to female inmates.

Before the change, the DOC required that a licensed female matron be on staff at all times if the county jail was to be certified to house female inmates.

Due to budget constraints, the county board did not feel it would be costs effective to house female inmates. The county was told they needed three full-time equivalent female jailers if the jail was to house female inmates.

Last year the board passed a resolution that the new jail would be a one-year facility that would house 30 male inmates or less.

Ely explained that the DOC now will allow the county to house female prisoners with the current staff on hand. The county has several female jailer/dispatchers and office help who are all properly certified.

“We almost always have at least one female working during the day,” Ely said. “And if a female is arrested at night, the DOC said we could place the prisoner in lock-up until one of our female employees could come in and conduct the search.

“But as far as our day-to-day activities, there won’t be any problems with male jailers and female prisoners,” Ely added.

Ely stated that the county would realize a double savings by not farming female inmates to other counties. The county would save on the cost of housing the prisoner and if the female prisoner was on work release, Houston County had to provide daily transportation to and from the Fillmore and Winona county jail.

The only thing the county board needed to do was amend the resolution made last year from “30 or less male inmates” to “30 or less inmates.”

A motion made by Commissioner Steve Schuldt and seconded by Commissioner Teresa Walter to amend the resolution was unanimously approved.

You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]m