Changes at state level ‘a good wake-up call’ for corrections

Louise Oleson, DLJ Managing Editor
Commissioner Lucas Wakefield, Commission President Mark Olson, County Auditor Kandy Christopherson, Commissioner Adam Leiphon and Commissioner Jeff Frith discuss the items on the agenda for the regular meeting of the Ramsey County Commission. Present but not shown are Commissioner Ed Brown and States Attorney Kari Agotness.

Commissioner Ed Brown reported to the Ramsey County Commission that changes at the state level overseeing the Department of Corrections will be a “good wake-up call” for all of the facilities in the state.

He told the commission at Tuesday’s regular meeting that from Devils Lake the officials inspecting the jail went to Langdon and then Grand Forks, going to all the jails throughout the state, finding issues that need to be addressed at most all of the facilities.

He said they would be coming back to Devils Lake unannounced some time in November, possibly, to determine if the recommended changes had been addressed.

Meanwhile Brown stated that they were working on a way to get the training in that is needed for corrections officers, possibly through TrainND or a similar program through the college.

Brown also commented that with the changes at the state level, “prisons are going to be real different in the future.” He said it looks like the local jails will be housing more local inmates on a long-term basis and shouldering the costs for their incarceration while the prisons will be used for the more serious offenders.

Commissioner Adam Leiphon asked about standards for continuing education and training for corrections officers and if some medium exists that keeps track of what training is needed and when it is completed, like it often is for other professions.

Brown said that a lot of the things that need to be addressed would be discussed at the LEC Board meeting coming Wednesday morning, Oct. 18.

Other business

Leiphon reported to the commission that the Restorative Justice Initiative would be pursuing grant funding that might lead to providing transitional housing for people getting out of prison.

Auditor Kandy Christopherson reported that she had contacted the people living in the two houses where the county was serving Intent to Evict notices. She reported that they were “working on getting the money together to take care of money owed.” Neither had paid in full at this point, so the commission went ahead and approved the notices of Intent to Evict. They have until the third Tuesday in Nov. at 5 p.m.

She reported that both were aware of what was happening going forward.

A hearing on appraisals, operating and maintenance billing from the city for the embankment, a review of the county highway department agenda and information from the ND Water Users Association  were all approved.