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The expansion of the Minnehaha County Jail is nearly complete, and county leaders are looking forward to what the improvements will mean for inmates, staff and the local criminal justice process overall. The $48 million project came in about $1 million to 1.5 million under budget and ahead of schedule: a pleasant surprise for county leaders. 

That's largely due to years of experience between the county and jail staff, and a consistent flow of knowledge, said Carol Muller with the Minnehaha County Commission office.  Using a construction manager at risk saved the county "significant dollars," Muller said, because costs were consistently being reviewed through the design process. 

"The county had a budget and there was no flexibility to spend any more dollars," she said. Those savings allowed the county to add additional security measures and an in-jail courtroom. Construction for the project began in 2018. A fifth-floor addition to the current jail was finished in the fall of 2019, which helped alleviate pressure the jail felt after a fire at the county's corrections center unexpectedly flooded the facility with extra inmates. 

That 2018 afternoon sent about 80 inmates to the Minnehaha County Jail, which at the early stages of expansion construction, put it at about 50 inmates over capacity. The county had to send inmates to other jails and stop renting its beds to other counties.