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Area inmates up 27 percent

The number of inmates booked at the Southwest Multi County Correction Center through October has increased by 27 percent compared to the same time period last year, according to information provided by SWMCCC.

Six counties utilize the facility and area officials are pointing to increases in population, oil activity and law enforcement as a cause of the jump.

The number of inmates from Belfield jumped about 800 percent and the number of days inmates from Belfield stayed at the SWMCCC increased by 1000 percent.

Belfield Police Chief Joe Schmidt, who was hired by the city about a year ago, attributed it to an additional officer on duty.

"Before, there was just one full-time officer in the city," Schmidt said. "With the increased oil activity and two new officers, it has drastically went up."

Inmates from Slope County increased 66 percent and the number of days spent in jail increased by 423 percent.

Slope County Sheriff Pat Lorge said an additional North Dakota Highway Patrol officer may account for the influx. Other factors may have contributed as well.

"The reason I think it's up is we've got a lot of out-of-state people," Lorge said.

Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said his department has definitely felt the 17 percent increase of inmates from Stark County.

"Our workload has increased substantially," Tuhy said, adding he would like to add another deputy. "If this continues like this, we're going to need more people."

He said population and economy may account for the increase.

"I don't think there's only one certain thing that you can really put your finger on. It's just a combination," Tuhy said.

Alcohol and drugs are a factor in many of their arrests, he added.

Ken Rooks, operations administrator for the SWMCCC, said despite the climb in inmates and time served, the facility has never been at capacity.

"It's not like we're running out of beds," Rooks said.

The rise in arrests means more costs for the county, Tuhy said.

"It's cutting everybody short," Tuhy said. "The more money you spend someplace else, there's less that you can allow for any other department."

Kenneth Steiner, chairman of the Bowman County Commission, worries what the 55 percent increase of inmates from there will do to their budget.

"All of a sudden, you haven't got that in your budget, so you have to take it out of the general fund and you're taking tax money to pay for it," Steiner said.