Good news at Ward County Jail

It’s been a rough few years at the Ward County Jail. Beset with mismanagement and eventually a scandal now playing out with at the highest level of county government, the jail became an embarrassment and a black eye to this community.

However, what can’t get lost in the melange of high lies and misdemeanors surrounding the cover-up of the previous jail scandal, is that there have obviously been considerable improvements.

Yes, a recent report from state authorities confirmed that a jail monitor will remain in place for the forseeable future and cited some minor – if slightly worrisome – incidents that helped prompt the monitor retention decision. There is still work needed to shore up the handling of inmates’ medical attention. This in and of itself might indicate that there is still additional training to be done.

That said, the letter to Ward County on the jail’s status also asserted that there had been notable progress in correcting problems. Or, in government speak: “Currently, facility operations are in substantial compliance with the Order of Non-Compliance.” That’s a good thing.

Clearly the jail is closer to appropriate operating parameters than in the not-too-distant past, as evidenced by a manageable inmate population within guidelines, and in satisfying other compliance requirements. This is not a mess that could be cleared up overnight, so progress to date is a success.

Minot Daily News is confident that Sheriff Bob Barnard is part of the solution at Ward County Jail and that jail management is moving in the right direction. With this improved leadership, hopefully the jail will become a model for the rest of North Dakota.