Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Department and others involved in the local criminal justice system are considering some changes in the way criminal defendants are handled to help manage a space crunch in the county jail.

Sheriff Kevin Torgerson says a decision earlier this year by the Minnesota Department of Corrections earlier this year has created headaches for the staff of the jail by establishing new separation requirements for offenders accused of assault and those with a history of assaultive behavior. Torgerson says it has effectively reduced the capacity of the jail by mandating that certain detainees be kept in private rooms instead of sharing a cell.

One of the options being considered calls for the release of certain detainees charged with lower-level and non-violent crimes who are in jail waiting for their trial, even if they cannot make bail. Sheriff Torgerson says the proposal was put together by now-retired County Administrator Richard Devlin, who spent quite a bit of the final months of his career studying the space issues facing the jail and potential remedies. The Sheriff says the plan would not only free up some space and delay the need for costly changes to the existing jail or new construction, it would also allow the accused person to possibly hold down a job and meet the needs of their families during what can be a lengthy wait for a trial date.

Sheriff Torgerson is a regular guest on the Rochester Today Show with Andy Brownell and James Rabe from 11 to noon weekdays on KROC-AM. 

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