BEMIDJI, Minn. — A new location for the Beltrami County Jail has officially been chosen, a move that will allow long-overdue upgrades to the existing facility.
County Administer Tom Barry and Sheriff Jason Riggs announced the news in a press release Thursday, saying the county has been ordered to build a new jail due to its "age and current construction." The price for the 16.9-acre property was agreed to last week for $540,000, which officials say the county plans to close on in August.
"Numerous changes in Department of Corrections regulations have resulted in the current jail becoming antiquated, necessitating replacement for staff and inmate safety and well-being," the statement read.
The new jail site, chosen from more than 15 other possible locations, sits north of Highway 2, southwest of Bemidji. The statement said the property was picked based on 10 criteria, including utilities, proximity, transportation, neighborhood impacts, and others.
"This multi-year project has achieved a significant milestone with the selection of the location of the future Beltrami County Jail," the statement read. "The selected property is favorable as it has good access to the highway and town, has water and sewer utilities in the street, and is fairly level with no existing structures."
The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners voted to approve the plan for the project in a meeting on Wednesday.
In recent years, the jail has faced widespread scrutiny over its alleged treatment of inmates. KARE 11 Investigates has documented several of these cases in its Cruel & Unusual series, shining a light on mysterious deaths otherwise ignored by people in power.
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