SIOUX FALLS, SD – From those suspected of robbing banks to crimes against children, they all usually await trial from inside in a county jail. With such a wide swath of people populating jail cells, it can be a challenge keeping everyone safe.
The Minnehaha County Jail has a maximum capacity of 400 inmates. Some will spend time waiting for their case to be heard, while others are serving out a sentence. And for some, the jail staff must take extra steps to ensure everyone’s safety.
26-year-old Nicolas Jastorff made a solo walk from the Minnehaha County Jail to a courtroom on Wednesday. The former middle school teacher faces 16 counts of fourth-degree rape for alleged sexual contact with two 13-year-old girls.
“We are obligated to take care of everybody that is here and we take every precaution that we can for those persons or those peoples safety while they’re here,” Warden Tim Devlin said.
Tim Devlin is the Warden for the Minnehaha County Jail. He can’t talk about specific inmates, but says the jail often has to take extra precautions for some inmates to ensure their safety. That’s mostly for what he calls high profile cases that receive media attention, or if the person is of note in the community. It also happens more frequently for those accused of specific crimes.
“Some of the crimes involving sexual assault particularly involving children or child pornography, those types of crimes seem to be more of a magnet for retaliatory type of actions,” Warden Devlin said.
With 360 to 370 inmates inside the Minnehaha County Jail on a typical day, keeping all of those inmates safe can be like a full-time job. In fact, it is as there is a full-time classifications officer who decides where each inmate stays and who they stay near.
Sometimes an inmate will be placed in a small group with just a few others around. In other cases, the staff of the jail will take that even further.
“For their own sake, we may house that person alone, until we’re felling good about his or her mental health while they’re here, and their safety while they’re here, then we can take other steps to house them in a little less restrictive environment,” Warden Devlin said.
Warden Devlin says while all of the measures add up to more work for the jail’s staff, it pays off.
“It is relatively safe inside here. We are obligated to take care of everybody here and actually I think we do a very good job of properly identifying people so they are safe here. That’s our obligation,” Warden Devlin said.
Occasionally, the jail also gets a request from an inmate to be put into protective custody.
Warden Devlin also notes that high profile cases are no secret to the other inmates because they watch TV news and read the newspaper.