Minnehaha Co. Jail Comes Up With Temporary Fix For Overcrowding Issues

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – For years now the Minnehaha County Jail has faced overcrowding issues.

As the population increases in cities like Sioux Falls, so does crime and the number of people being booked into jail.

But the Warden says they’ve come up with a short-term solution, before a more permanent one can be put in place.

“The jail is running at about 400 right now, with another 100 or so housed out at the Correction Center,” says Minnehaha County Jail Warden, Jeff Gromer.

Even though the jail has 400 beds, Gromer says they don’t like to be in this situation — having to use all of them.

“We have ideally room for about 350 inmates,” he says.

And that’s because of safety reasons.

“As you add inmates, obviously you get a concern about inmate and staff safety,” says Gromer. “The fuller a facility gets, the tighter and confined things are, and that obviously raises tension levels.”

Gromer says he doesn’t see the number of inmates going down, since they’ve been hitting capacity on and off for years now.

So the jail has to make a few adjustments.

“We’re going to try to convert a 24-bed unit into a 48-bed housing unit, which when we get to that level of inmates, we move it to a direct supervision post position,” says Gromer.

To accommodate for the extra beds, the Minnehaha County Commissioners approved hiring six more full-time correctional officers.

But Gromer knows this is only a temporary fix.

“We’ve been talking about expanding the jail for about 5 years now,” he says.

A $46 million expansion is in the works.

The addition will include a new Sally Port, inmate booking area, and 320-beds.

But it doesn’t open for another three years.

“Our inmate population is rising quicker than we hoped,” says Gromer. “While we’re working on the expansion, we need to make some adjustments in the meantime.”

Once the expansion is finished, Gromer says they’ll need to hire another round of correctional officers.

At this time he doesn’t know how many hires the jail will need.

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