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Winona County eyes new jail for outdated one

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WINONA, Minn. (WXOW) - Winona County law enforcement learned from the state in 2018 that their jail doesn't meet basic safety and security standards and must close by September 2021.

Steve Buswell, the Winona County Jail Administrator Captain, said a year after the jail opened in 1977, operation facility rules changed.

"My understanding is they understood that when they opened up this facility but it took now from 1978 to 2018 when the Minnesota Department of Corrections sent us what's called a 'sunset letter'. The 'sunset' means we are closing so September 30, 2021, meaning this jail facility can no longer operate," said Buswell.

He said that the jail is not ADA or fire code compliant.

Buswell said the new jail's goal is to act as a treatment facility with a full-time social worker. Buswell mentioned that law enforcement is knowledgeable that many inmates struggle with mental health.

The Winona County Commissioners will meet again in the next coming weeks to look at the new jail's potential cost.

Winona County is one of three counties notified by the state that they must close the current jail. All face deadlines for next September to build new facilities.

The move towards a new jail for the county got a boost on Thursday when the Minnesota State Senate forwarded a bonding bill to Gov. Tim Walz's signature. The bill included $750,000 for Winona County to use in the purchase of land for a new jail.

Lindsey Ford

Lindsey Ford is a multi-media journalist.

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