- Associated Press - Saturday, September 23, 2017

DEADWOOD, S.D. (AP) - It could be the busiest year ever for a jail in the western part of South Dakota, and officials are debating the future of the facility.

Sheriff Brian Dean told the Lawrence County Commission earlier this month that the jail is nearly full, the Black Hills Pioneer reported . The meeting prompted board discussion on housing options once the jail is full and the possibility of building a new jail.

Dean said the average daily population at the jail is more than 40 and that its nine-year average is 34. The average monthly population is more than 1,200.

“The housing margins are so limited that when it increases by one inmate, that can put us over limit,” he said. “I reached out to the sheriff of Meade County. We may have to house inmates over there at a cost of $65 a day.”

He said he is hoping to count on Meade County, but that they also experience housing issues sometimes.

Commission Chairman Randall Rosenau asked Dean if there is an anticipated average daily population that he would consider a trigger point. Dean said jail trends are being monitored and cautioned that one busy year doesn’t a trend make.

“A year is not a trend,” Dean said. “There is great risk, in my opinion, coming forth with a formal opinion too early, yet I am committed to the fact that the numbers we’re seeing are not sustainable.”

Dean said there are a host of things that need to be decided when it comes to how to fund a new jail.

“This jail is 42 years old,” Dean said. “It needs some improvements, but I want to make sure we make the right decisions before we spend money. We have made some small improvements by improving the safety of those who work in our facility. In 2017, our numbers are really elevated. It’s nothing to get overly excited about, but something we need to sit up and pay attention to.”


Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, https://www.bhpioneer.com

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