Phase 1 of Stearns jail remodel complete

The first phase of the Stearns County jail remodeling project is finished. Phase 1 involved reconstructing the first floor of the Law Enforcement Center (LEC) to accommodate the female housing unit and work release inmates, both of which were previously on the second floor.

Moving the female inmates to the first floor allowed for the addition of another 11 beds, going from 9 to 20 in the female unit. This is a growing jail population and will reduce the need to pay for transporting women to jails in other counties. Stearns County transfers about 10 females a day to other counties for jail housing.

Relocating the work release area to the first floor allowed that area to be downsized, from 60 beds to 12, because it was under-utilized. Most work release inmates are now monitored using ankle bracelets.

The reconstruction area was in a portion of the LEC first floor that was left vacant after the St. Cloud Police Department moved out of the building in 2009.

Crews are now beginning the second phase of the project on the second floor of the LEC. With more space now on the second floor, the booking area will be expanded to make it safer, to accommodate the 8,000-9,000 bookings done by Stearns County each year. Male inmates will remain on the second floor, in an expanded area with an additional nine cells.

The Stearns County jail is being remodeled to ease overcrowding and safety and security issues within the building. Renovation began in January and is expected to be completed sometime early next year.

The remodeling project is a short-term, 10-year, fix for the County’s jail needs, but will give Stearns County time and an opportunity to focus on a long-term 30-year solution. Total estimated cost of the construction is $5.1 million. Of that total cost, nearly $1.3 million is work that will be done in-house, such as the carpentry, electrical wiring and plumbing.