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Davison County Jail sees rise in women's pod population

The average number of women in the pod per day is now about twice what it was a decade ago.

Davison County PSB.jpg

With more people in the county being put in jail and jail availability around the region becoming a precious commodity, space in the women's pod at the Davison County Jail has been in shorter supply in recent years.

Jail Administrator Don Radel told The Daily Republic on Friday that in about a decade, the average number of women in the jail per day has roughly doubled, and numbers have been on the rise since the jail opened.

"A couple different things lead into that," Radel said. "Slightly more arrests; some of the sentences are a little bit longer. With the new probation plans they have now, they are less apt to go to the penitentiary, and so jail sanctions are used more, now. So they'll come back to jail maybe for a weekend, or if they're on one of the 24/7 programs and they violate that, they'll come to jail and sit until their next court hearing."

In addition to a pair of segregation cells, the jail is made up of four pods, three of which are for men and contain between 16 and 18 beds each. In the women's pod, which holds 18 beds, an average of 14 women per day have been held so far this year, and averages of 15 and 16 women, respectively, were housed in 2018 and 2017. Comparatively, an average of 28 men are housed in the jail per day.

Altogether, the jail holds an average of 45 people per day, though Radel said last weekend, it held more than 50. He estimated that now, about a third of those in the jail for Davison County charges at a given time are there for violating conditions of a release program.

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Radel said having only a few open beds complicates jail staff's ability to keep women who don't get along or who are codefendants in a case from being housed together.

"Today, now, we've got 10, which doesn't sound like a lot, but when you only have 18 beds, that doesn't give you a lot of shuffling around space," Radel said.

The Davison County Jail currently holds contracts with Aurora, Sanborn, McCook, Miner, Hanson, Douglas and Hutchinson counties, as well as the U.S. Marshals Service, though people arrested in Davison County are prioritized when it comes to determining who gets a bed in the jail. If there isn't room for someone arrested in a nearby county or on a federal charge, that person is taken to the next-closest jail.

The jail also occasionally takes in people charged in counties that don't have a contract with Davison County. Radel said that due to a shortage of beds in the Minnehaha County Jail, which similarly holds contracts with its less populated neighboring counties, the Davison County Jail has taken in a few people from Lincoln, Turner and Moody counties, as well.

Because people in jail are typically transported to and from the courthouse in the county where they are charged, those charged in counties near the Minnesota border who are housed in the Davison County Jail may have to travel 50 to 75 miles each way for every court appearance.

Radel said the increase in the women's pod's daily population is mostly made up of women charged in Davison County, rather than women held for another jurisdiction. He said roughly a dozen of the women in the jail on a given day are there for Davison County charges or sentences.

With most cells already holding the maximum number of beds they're allowed by square footage and no plans made for a building project, the jail is limited in the ways it can keep the women's pod from getting full.

Radel said while the jail could free up beds by taking in fewer people from outside county lines, that would reduce a source of revenue for the county. Last year, jail contracts brought in $135,000, which was used toward the jail's overall yearly budget of just under $2 million.

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"Right now, I guess we're limited with our space," Radel said. "Without a lot of money into a building project, there wouldn't be any other solving to it."

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
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