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Yellowstone County commissioner discusses jail-needs assessment



Billings, Montana – On Thursday, Yellowstone County community leaders and law enforcement met to discuss how to address the issue of overcrowding in jails and lower crime rates.

In order to successfully address these issues, Commissioners and the City of Billings stated that they require an evaluation of what the County’s Corrections Facilities require.

Sheriff Mike Linder of Yellowstone County went into great detail about the overcrowding problem. He claimed that the situation is so terrible that some of the suspects detained by county law enforcement won’t even see a jail cell.

Nearly 570 inmates are housed in the jail’s 434 beds, according to Sheriff Linder. As a result, police cannot hold individuals in custody unless they have committed a major crime.

According to county officials and law enforcement, additional beds need to be added to the jail, but that’s not the only problem that needs to be solved to reform the system, Commissioner John Ostlund said on Thursday.

“Well this is a list of all the inmates that are in Yellowstone County right now the first eight or nine pages of that list have inmates that have been there two years to six months and so we are having some real issues with speedy trials and I know that courts have been balled up since COVID happened, but that would need to be a component of any study that we would look at to determine what needs to speed the courts process up and get these people that are in jail adjudicated and get released or sent to Deerlodge,” said Ostlund.

Commissioner Ostlund estimates that adding 250 beds would cost county taxpayers about $45 million, in addition to an extra $30 million for facility management.

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