An old Minnesota jail is now a leader for inmate mental health

When Clay County officials started planning to replace its jail, the oldest in the state, they gathered around a table to start building a wish list for the new jail’s design.

“One of the first things we talked about, one of the big needs we felt, was having proper housing for those individuals in our custody that have mental health and behavioral issues,” recalls Julie Savat, the jail’s administrator.

Staffers visited psychiatric wards at local hospitals and used some of what they learned to tell architects what they wanted to see in a behavioral health jail unit. At the top of their list: A quiet area away from the rest of the jail population, individual cells and a shared space outside those individual cells.  more

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