2013 Burleigh and Morton County Numbers Show Increase in Inmates - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

2013 Burleigh and Morton County Numbers Show Increase in Inmates

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Burleigh and Morton County jails are full, but voters have to approve a new joint jail before a larger facility can be built.

In the meantime, the two sheriff's departments have to get creative with what they've got to work with.

More inmates than ever are getting booked in Burleigh County.

"We're in dire needs..."

In 2013, the Burleigh County jail had a daily average of 169 inmates.

It's built to hold 138.

"I think we have a little bit more crime in the area, we definitely have more officers in the area, we know we have a lot more people living in the area..." says Pat Heinert, Burleigh Co. Sheriff.

Deputies have had to move overflow inmates to the Bismarck Transition Center and all over the state.

"We're housing some in Stark, Mercer... in Stutsman, Cass..." says Heinert.

Instead of paying to transport and house them somewhere else, Sheriff Pat Heinert says it's simple: More jail space here is needed.

"This is the only jail facility in Burleigh County, so anybody in Burleigh County that gets arrested, has to go to jail actually comes here, no matter if they're arrested by the sheriff's department, the highway patrol or the city of Bismarck." says Sheriff Pat Heinert, Burleigh County.

Across the river in Morton County, the jail is also full.

"It's obvious when the population increases, your crime rates are going to go up, you just need more rooms for jails or more jail space." says Sheriff Dave Shipman, Morton County.

In the past year they averaged 50 inmates per day which is an 11.9 percent increase from the previous year.

Morton County Sheriff Dave Shipman says they are already double-bunking and dealing with overflow.

"Bismarck Transition Center is always our first choice and Mercer and McLean County and Dickinson." says Shipman.

A proposed joint jail for Burleigh/Morton would have more than twice the combined current space for inmates, but until that's voted on by the public, local sheriffs are grateful that even more people aren't locked up.

"The 24/7 program, the whole point is to keep people out of jail, keep them sober." says Heinert.

In April, supporters of the proposed new Burleigh/Morton joint jail will present floor plans to city and county leaders and the public.

Voters will decide in June if they want to help pay for it.

Sheriff Heinert and Shipman say if it's approved there's a big need for additional mental health staff to work with inmates.

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