Detention Center closed County proposes alternative uses for facility

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MINERAL COUNTY officials recently discussed alternative Detention Center solutions resulting from its closure in early February. (Maggie Dresser/Mineral Independent)

Mineral County officials met on Friday, April 12 to discuss proposals for the Detention Center’s future following its temporary closure in February.

“The can got kicked down the road two more weeks,” County Commissioner Roman Zylawy said.

Unless more people apply for the remaining three openings for detention officers, officials will look into alternative uses for the jail. The Detention Center requires five officers to staff the 28-bed center, and only two potential employees applied for the position — forcing its temporary closure.

One proposal is to use the Detention Center for Lake County’s inmate overflow. This means Mineral County would continue using the jail, but Lake County would control the center and provide their own detention officers. A contract would be drafted determining Mineral County’s involvement.

ANOTHER PROPOSAL is to lease the facility to Community, Counseling and Correctional Services, Incorporated (CCCS), a private, non-profit jail corporation. CCCS operates 14 different facilities in Montana, North Dakota and Washington.

In the meantime, Mineral County Sherriff Mike Boone sends current inmates to the Sanders County Jail in Thompson Falls and the Missoula County Jail in Missoula. Mineral County must pay $69.50 per day to both facilities to house an inmate. Sanders County is currently housing two Mineral County inmates.

When the Mineral County Detention Center is open, there is an average of five to six of its own inmates, and two Montana Highway Patrol inmates, who are required to pay the $69.50 per day fee.

“I personally think it’s important to have a jail here,” Zylawy said. “But when there’s no interest from workers or agencies, we can’t send inmates to our jail.”

This closure pertains only to the Detention Center. The sherriff’s office is still in operation, law enforcement is fully-staffed and the 911 dispatch center is fully operational.

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