MINOT, N.D.-The Ward County Jail no longer is subject to special state monitoring.
Sheriff Bob Barnard informed the Ward County Commission Tuesday of a letter from the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that states the jail will be subject in the future only to routine, annual inspections.
The jail had been under full-time compliance monitoring from January 2015 through July of this year. The state placed Robert Werlinger as monitor following an investigation into the October 2014 death of Dustin Irwin, who died in Bismarck after being transferred from Ward County Jail. The investigation revealed a pattern of jail compliance violations.
The DOCR indicated in July that the jail had made great strides, warranting the end of full-time monitoring. Barnard said a monitor has visited the jail about three times since, typically spending less than a day to conduct spot reviews on certain areas of operation.
Previously cited for failure to train staff, the Ward County Jail has developed an in-house program for training its correctional officers. That program is expanding to offer training to other agencies, including employees of DOCR.
Previously cited for over-crowding, the jail's recent count was 103 inmates, which is capacity for the moment. Nearly all inmates have been moved from the older jail to a floor in the newly constructed portion that opened to inmates last week.
Capacity on each of the two floors of the new jail is 100. However, Barnard said upper floor of the jail expansion is not housing inmates because the monitoring station for correctional officers is being used as the jail's main control center while remodeling occurs in the older jail. It is expected the control center will move back to the remodeled jail in June, opening the upper floor for use in housing inmates.
Brian Kunz with Adolphson & Peterson Construction said the transition to the new jail and sheriff's office largely went smoothly. He said attention now will shift to demolition inside the older jail so that renovation can occur. A section of the older jail serves as temporary intake for processing of new inmates.