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Published January 13, 2014, 08:31 PM

Red Lake County sticks with regional jail; reverses earlier move to opt out of agreement

Red Lake County has reversed a decision and will continue to send its criminal offenders to Tri-County Community Corrections, located in Crookston.

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

Red Lake County has reversed a decision and will continue to send its criminal offenders to Tri-County Community Corrections, located in Crookston.

The Red Lake County Commission voted Friday to stay with Tri-County, after initially voting in December to seek services elsewhere when the current contract expires at the end of 2014.

“It’s been a 38-year partnership. You hate to see it end,” Tri-County Executive Director Phillip Greer said Monday after a board meeting.

The Crookston correctional facility, which opened in 2008 and has a capacity to house as many as 225 inmates, serves Norman, Polk and Red Lake counties.

“It doesn’t change anything. It just reverts back to the way it’s been,” said Polk County Commissioner Warren Strandell, who also serves as Tri-County board chair. “Financially, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.”

Red Lake County contributes just a fraction of the total operating costs of the facility. Polk County pays 87 percent of the cost of operations, while Norman contributes 9 percent and Red Lake chips in 4 percent.

The percentages are based on several factors, including volume of use, population and total valuations in the participating counties, according to Strandell.

When Red Lake County initially voted to withdraw, officials had estimated the county could save $100,000 to $150,000 annually by leaving Tri-County and working with another facility.

“When Red Lake County got information about all of the costs, they decided it’s a really good deal to stay with Tri-County,” Strandell said.

Besides Norman, Red Lake and Polk counties, Tri-County also has housed prisoners from other counties.

The Tri-County board currently is negotiating a contract with Mahnomen County to provide beds in its adult and juvenile facilities, as well as probation services.

It also is negotiating with Clay County to provide a minimum of 12 beds on a daily basis, according to Strandell.

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