Public Safety Center construction project

project
Public Safety Center timeline
  1. Matthew Verdick

    Parks & Facilities Director
    Phone: 507-332-6105

  2. Jesse Thomas

    Sheriff
    Additional Phone: 507-334-4391

  3. Suzy Rook

    Communications Coordinator
    Phone: 507-384-6509

  1. Overview
  2. The study
  3. The site
  4. What's next?


Law Enforcement Center spring

The Minnesota Department of Corrections, in a July 2019 letter, said it was downgrading Rice County’s main jail to a 90-day facility effective Nov. 1, 2019, citing a lack of required programming and recreational space.

The change would limit the number of days a facility can hold inmates and forced the county to relocate inmates who had served 90 days in the jail to jails in nearby counties. The change would cost the county, according to the then-sheriff’s 2019 estimate, $500,000 annually to house and transport inmates from out-of-county jails to the Rice County courthouse and back. A 2021 estimate put that figure at $1 million.

County officials also noted that doing so would tie up deputies who would otherwise be performing their regular duties.

Jail Annex Building

The Board of Commissioners on July 30, 2019 agreed to conduct a study looking at the county’s needs for a jail and presenting possible solutions. That led the DOC to hold off on a change in classification, provided Rice County continued to work to resolve the shortcomings in its facility. Hired to do the study was Klein McCarthy Architects, which worked with a task force comprised of county staff (including Sheriff’s Office and jail staff) and two county commissioners, which met to consider the county’s needs and research options.

Following an April 2021 report, the board voted to build a 76-bed Public Safety Center. In September 2021, it approved the purchase of 109 acres just east of Hwy. 3 near its intersection with 30th Street for the new Public Safety Center.

Rice County has been granted two extensions on the jail reclassification, due in large part to its work to build a new jail that meets DOC requirements. The current extension expires July 1, 2022.

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No matter how large or small, rural or urban the correctional facility may be, proper custody level, inclusive protection, medical care, or ADA considerations will apply equally. Nationally, inmate populations are sicker, older, and more in need of mental health services. Universally, correctional institutions of all sizes are acting as catchment facilities for people in need of human services.

— 2021 Klein McCarthy Architects study