ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - On Tuesday, Ramsey County’s jail will start transferring inmates to another county facility, as well as other locations across the state.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections, or DOC, set the close of business on Monday as the deadline for Sheriff Bob Fletcher to present his plan on how he will reduce the population of the Adult Detention Center. Fletcher declined FOX 9’s request for an interview Monday afternoon but shared his office’s plans.
In a letter to the state, the sheriff said the Ramsey County Correctional Facility has agreed to house 30 to 50 inmates starting Wednesday. Other counties in the Twin Cities and across Minnesota have agreed to take in another 30 to 50 starting Tuesday. Fletcher said another interim commitment is in the works to house an additional 25 inmates at Department of Corrections facilities.
In the long term, the sheriff plans to ask the Ramsey County Board to increase staffing levels based on the state's recommendations.
On Monday, a spokesperson for Ramsey County told FOX 9 in a statement: "Ramsey County Community Corrections, Public Health, and other executive leadership and staff have been working all day with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office to offer solutions to the Department of Corrections they would not have without the broader county support. Our goal is the health and safety of residents and staff."
The state ordered Fletcher to cut the jail’s population and bed capacity last week after a DOC investigation found the jail repeatedly failed to meet minimum staffing levels, violating state regulations. The state began investigating after Ramsey County Public Health workers self-reported concerns to DOC about the jail.
DOC’s investigation found a dozen shifts in January where minimum staffing levels weren't met and four times since September where inmates were denied or delayed medical care.
Fletcher said he first brought concerns about potential overcrowding at the jail to county board commissioners in May 2022.
"(Corrections officers) want some help and they want us to come to the board and get some type of discussion on how we can better address this overcrowding," Fletcher told commissioners on May 3, 2022, according to a video posted on the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
At the time, he proposed sending inmates to the Ramsey County Correctional Facility, also called the Ramsey County Workhouse.
"Frankly, the Workhouse might be part of our solution in terms of housing some people in a manner that might be more humane than what's in our detention center," Fletcher said in May 2022.
On Sunday, Fletcher said the Ramsey County Correctional Facility is only using 25 percent of its capacity. County staff members have raised concerns about whether that facility has enough staffing to house inmates long term, but the sheriff told FOX 9 the state's order only goes through the end of November.