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Dakota County Jail

1580 Highway 55
Hastings, MN 55033
Phone 651.437.4211

Interview with Shawanda Miller, Jeremy, Chuck, Charles and Josh

JM: How long was your sentencing for?
Shawanda Miller: My last sentence was for 120 days on one case, then 1 year and a day on the second case, but the judge ran both cases concurrent so I spent 120 days in jail. They don't house the females in Hastings anymore - either they take females to Ramsey County, Carver County, Goodhue County.
Jeremy: not sure for now
Chuck: I was sentenced to 90 days in jail and a year long progam called "Safe Streets First." Which is a program where you have to go to classes and check in your sobriety.
Charles: 18 months. 6 county, 6 prison, 6 good time
Josh: All together I spent about one month. They credited me for time served. I was in jail from June 4th 2014 until July 12th 2014.

JM: Did you spend time in a holding cell after your sentencing? If so, what was that like? If you didn't where did they they take you instead?
Shawanda Miller: Yes I spent time in holding cell after the sentencing. Sometimes you would have 6-8 people in one holding cell, sometimes just by yourself until they are through either releasing people, shift change, or bring inmates back to there unit. Sometimes you would eat dinner in the holding cell also. If the person is being released sometimes it would take 3-4 hours to get released depending on how busy they were.
Jeremy: The holding process was a nightmare! I turned myself in at 4pm...and didnt make it to my 2 man cell until 1am the next day! I sat around for 9 hours to just fingerprint and get booked in. There was probably only 10 of us there! It was amazing it took that long!
Chuck: You're in a pre-trial area where the cells all face one room, you're in there with all kinds of people... mainly innocent people, the poor or mentally ill. You're next to murderers and guys who stole a pack of gum.
Charles: I did. It was small and full of others waiting to see the judge. It was just a small room where I spent the day while I wasn't in court.
Josh: After sentancing they brought us all back to the unit after sitting in the holding cell waiting for all the other inmates that where in court awaiting sentancing. When we got back our lunch was cold.

Life On The Inside
"Basically, mind your own business, stay focused on what you're going to do to get out, don't become part of social atmosphere, you can't start to like or dislike the guards, don't start complaining. When you lose focus on outside world and instead focus on jail that's not going to help. Take advantage of classes and programs."

That is advice from a former inmate of Dakota County Jail and is pretty sound. There is actually quite a wide range of classes and programs offered at this facility. Among these are Adult Basic Education (GED), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) , Anger Management, Expanded Life Choices, Inmate Counseling and Parenting for Fathers. In other words there are many productive ways to stay occupied while doing time. 

When the Dakota County Jail first opened its cell doors in 1983, they averaged 55 inmates a day. Today that number has bumped up to over 300 per day. There are 5 units to the jail. Within each of those units are two men cells. When overcrowding occurs, some inmates are forced to sleep on cots in the gym.

Inmates can expect 3 meals a day. However, don't expect 4 star cuisine. They are provided with a cold breakfast, a hot lunch and a bagged sandwich for dinner. They can round out their eating by using the vending machines or canteen made available to them. As for going outside, inmates are at the mercy of the Minnesota weather.

Good Behavior Policy
The baseline for good behavior in Dakota County Jail is ten days a month. Those days off can also be added back on if an inmate breaks the rules involving fighting or contraband. For instance, the official policy for photos is: "Inmates may possess no more than ten photographs (no Polaroid photos). The photographic images must be appropriate in nature." In other words, one "inappropriate" photo could have you doing your full sentence.

Visitor and Phone Policy
Visiting time for inmates is on Wednesday, Saturdays and Sundays. In order to secure a visit, the inmate needs to sign up for a specific time based on when their individual housing unit is allowed visitors. It's up to the inmate to inform their visitor of the appointment. Visits will only be for 20 minutes.

As for phone calls, telephones access is provided to inmates for ten minute calls. These are collect calls. If an inmate needs to call a cell phone number they will have to set up a connection account with Correctional Billing Services in advance of making the call.

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