- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - State corrections officials have ordered the Williams County jail to reduce its population of female inmates.

A recent inspection found the facility had 18 more women than the 20 it’s allowed, the Williston Herald reported. The jail’s population has increased as the general population has soared with the region’s oil boom.

“Who’d have ever thought we’d have almost 40 females in jail?” County Commissioner Martin Hanson said.

“That’s the changing times,” replied Sheriff Scott Busching.

County commissioners recently approved paying a lockup in Hardin, Montana, to house excess female prisoners.

“We called all over (North Dakota) to see who we could move around and no one in the state is taking any females because they are all in the same boat,” Busching said.

North Dakota’s prison system topped 1,800 inmates late last month, a record level for inmate numbers and 500 more than the number that the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation considers ideal.

The Williston jail was built seven years ago to handle inmate growth in the coming 50 years. The 131-bed facility already is filled to capacity.

Williams County is planning an expanded jail that will be able to hold 54 women, but it won’t be ready until 2017. Busching said failing to address the overpopulation now would put the Williston jail at risk of having the state assume oversight, as it did in Ward County last year for similar reasons.

“Unfortunately, we have to do what we have to do,” Commission Chairman David Montgomery said. “It’s not a fault of ours. It’s not a mismanagement fault.”

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Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com


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