- Associated Press - Saturday, May 13, 2017

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - State monitoring of the Ward County Jail will continue indefinitely after the North Dakota Department of Corrections determined that jail staff made two significant errors in health services in recent weeks.

A full-time monitor was put at the jail in 2016, after an investigation into the 2014 death of inmate Dustin Irwin, who died after he was transferred to another county. Former Sheriff Steve Kukowski was charged in Irwin’s death for allegedly not trying to get medical care, but the charges were dismissed when he resigned.

Current Sheriff Bob Barnard told the Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/2r4Ezn9 ) he’s disappointed the monitoring will continue. He said he felt jail standards were being met and that the incidents cited as reasons for the continued monitoring were being mischaracterized.

In a May 8 letter to County Commission chairman Larry Louser, Corrections Director Leann Bertsch wrote that continued non-compliance regarding medical care required continued monitoring.

Bertsch said that in one of the recent incidents, a jail staff member failed to provide inmates with medication. When confronted, the staffer reportedly made excuses and the issue wasn’t fixed until the monitor demanded corrective action.

Barnard said an employee failed to fill out paperwork and was reprimanded.

“We took corrective action as soon as we discovered there was an issue,” he said.

In an incident on April 13, a participant in the 24/7 alcohol program reportedly had a blood-alcohol content of 0.20. After being admitted to the jail, the inmate raised a medical concern. A medical professional directed that the inmate to be taken to a hospital, but the inmate didn’t wish to go.

The jail administrator allowed the inmate to stay in jail after signing a medical refusal form. Bertsch’s letter said the inmate was extremely impaired and might have had limited English skills.

Commissioners are anxious to end the monitoring, which costs the county about $7,500 a month.

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Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com

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