Costly improvements needed for Becker Co. Jail - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Costly improvements needed for Becker Co. Jail

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The Becker County Jail was built 35 years ago with the intention the facility would last 25 years.

Recent inspections are showing that 10 extra years of hard time has taken its toll on the aging building.

"They did one in January and then they came back in February, I believe," says the county's Sheriff Kelly Shannon.

After the inspections, the Department of Corrections recommended a new lock system- not for keeping prisoners in, but actually, to let them out. Right now if there needed to be a safety evacuation, staff would have to manually unlock all the cell pods. The Department of Corrections is asking is that the electronic unlocking controls outside all the pods are operational, too.

"We'd hit this button- it would activate the lock inside, let the inmate out of the cell. When that's done cycling we can hit this one, and it would open the second cell door inside," says Becker County Jail Administrator Randy Hodgson.

Right now not all of the electronic unlocking systems work. Ideally, a central system in the main control room would unlock all cell doors with the push of a single button, but that comes with a $500,000 price tag.

"After they found out the cost that it would take to incorporate all these locks into our control panel so we could hit that button and open all the locks up at one time, they decided that it would just be money wasted," says Hodgson.

The inspection also uncovered some other necessary updates to the old jail.

"Our smoke detectors- that needs to be addressed right away- and we have. We've gotten bids and everything on that. As soon as the board approves that, it will be installed," says Shannon. "Our video system is inadequate," he adds.

The updates wouldn't stop there: Plumbing, furniture and security-grade lighting are also on the project list. 

All of those projects will add up to an estimated $90,000. The jail has budgeted $70,000 will ask the County Commission for $20,000 more March 25.





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