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Questions and Answers

December 30, 2013

I get asked many questions throughout the day by inmates, family, friends and the general public. Most questions I get from inmates could easily be answered if they would just read their Inmate Handbook (yes we have a handbook) and I’ve tried to address many questions that family and friends might have, over at the official Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center web page.

Still,there are many other questions that come up fairly often that aren’t answered on that site so I thought I’d go through some of the more common ones in this post and perhaps a future post or two. I’ll roll these into a dedicated FAQ page as well so you will always be able to find answers to the most common questions I get asked. I’d also like to encourage readers to send me questions that aren’t answered here. If you’re wondering something about the Hubbard County Detention Center most likely there are other folks wondering the same thing.

Q. Can I send an inmate mail?
A. Absolutely but there are some rules to follow. Other than the address and return address do not write or draw anything on the outside of the envelop or it will be immediately placed into the inmate’s property and not delivered. We will accept and deliver letters that conform to the previous sentence as well plain greeting cards. Cards covered with glitter, strings and other doodads including all musical and recordable cards will not be delivered. Don’t put stickers on the envelopes or on the letters or cards themselves as they will not be delivered either. Mail that smells of perfume, has lipstick or other unidentifiable substances or stains on the envelope or its contents will also not be delivered.

You can send money to inmates through the mail but it is advisable not to send cash. Money orders are acceptable but we don’t accept personal checks.

You can also email inmates. You must set up an account at inmatecanteen.com and the charge is $0.25 per email. Once you do and if an inmate has money in their trust account to pay for a return email, they can reply to you.

Q. Can I speak to an inmate over the phone?
A. Yes but you can’t call them directly. You can leave short, 10-15 second voice mail messages by dialing 218-732-8273. The automated voice mail system will give you instructions on how to leave your inmate a voice mail message. When not in lockdown, inmates can call you directly from jail using phones in the housing units if you have a telephone that will accept collect calls or the inmate has purchased a phone card. You can set your phone up to accept collect calls by visiting http://www.reliancetelephone.com. You can also buy phone cards for your inmate directly from that website. It is your responsibility to get phone card numbers that you purchased online to your inmate not ours so don’t call asking us to deliver it because we won’t.

Keep in mind that all incoming and outgoing calls are recorded1.

Q. Do inmates receive appropriate medical care?
A. Yes. Medical issues are handled just like they would be if the inmate wasn’t in jail. If the issue is something that can be addressed during normal clinic hours the inmate may be taken to the clinic to see their regular physician. If not they may be taken to the emergency room by a deputy or by ambulance depending on the circumstances.

Inmates are finically responsible for all associated costs but are never denied medical care because of an inability to pay. If an inmate has medical insurance, clinic and hospital charges will be run through that first and the balance will be charged to the inmate. All medical and dental bills are charged to the inmate’s trust account as we receive them from the provider. Upon release the inmate will receive an invoice which is payable in thirty days or it gets turned over to collections.

Q. Can inmates go to the doctor when ever they want?
A. Inmates requesting to see a physician will first be screened by jail nursing staff. If the nurse feels the inmate needs to be further evaluated or treated by a physician they will make arrangements with jail staff to see that an appointment is made.

Q. Can inmates chose what physician they see.
A. Sometimes but not always. We take inmates to Essentia Clinic in Park Rapids. If the inmate’s physician practices medicine there, we can normally accommodate them. If the inmate’s primary physician is located at another clinic, the jail is not obligated to transport the inmate to that clinic just to see a particular physician.

Q. You said that inmates will first be screened by jail nursing staff. Does that mean they might not get to go to the doctor?
A. Not surprisingly, most inmate health issues are preexisting conditions that the inmate neglected to address while not incarcerated. Since many inmates are repeat offenders and know how to work the system, as soon as they come to jail they want to have every medical and dental issue that they neglected to address while on the outside, taken care of while they’re in custody. Also not surprisingly most inmates will not voluntarily pay the medical and dental bills they incur while incarcerated in our jail. That means that the jail, and by extension, the taxpayers of Hubbard County, will eventually end up footing the bill. This adds up to a substantial medical and dental bill at the end of the year. In an effort to keep that bill as low as possible trained nursing staff will screen inmates to determine if they actually need to see a doctor or dentist.

As I previously stated all emergency medical issues are immediately addressed by transporting the inmate to the emergency room by ambulance or by squad car.

Q. Can I donate books, magazines and puzzles to the jail?
A. No. The main reason is that it is a security issue. People on the outside can and do try to smuggle contraband into the facility in donated items. The other reason we don’t accept donated items is that experience has taught us that the books, magazines and puzzles that well intentioned folks typically want to donate aren’t in the best of shape. They tend to be musty, moldy, torn up and damaged or smell like cigarette smoke. In the past when we did accept donations from the public, most of the donations just ended up in the dumpster or recycling bin.

If you want to donate books and magazines to the jail we’ve set up an account at inmatecantee.com under the name Hubbard County Jail Programs that you can directly donate cash to and we’ll use that money to buy books and magazines. You can also make direct cash donations to that same account using the kiosk in the lobby of the Detention Center.

Q. Do inmates have access to vending machines?
A. Yes. In 2010 we contracted with Turnkey Corrections (inmate canteen.com) to provide vending and canteen items to our inmates. Statutorily, we are required to operate a canteen system in the jail and until 2010 we operated the canteen ourselves. It was a labor intensive and time consuming operation and one that we thought would be better served by someone other than trained corrections officers.

As the Programs Coordinator during the last three years I can say that Turnkey has been a great partner and has freed up a significant amount of time that I was able to devote to more important inmate programming activities. Also, canteen sales generate commissions that are used to pay licensed teachers and instructors to come into the jail to provide inmates an array of educational services: GED prep and testing, Adult Basic Life Skills classes, Parenting Classes, Cognitive Skills classes, etc.

Canteen commissions, along with phone card commissions have enabled us to purchase computers for our Programs room for inmates to use to look for employment, access the State Registrar’s site to research statutes and criminal code and to partake in various self-directed educational courses covering a wide variety of topics: parenting, basic and intermediate grammar, writing skills, employment search tools and resources, job interviewing skills, alcohol and substance abuse.

Lastly, canteen services and in particular vending machines, are an important inmate management tool. Inmates tend to be better behaved knowing that a consequence of poor behavior will be the loss of vending machine and canteen access. Put another way, inmate access to canteen and vending services makes for a safer and more secure facility.

That’s it for this round of questions and make sure to subscribe to our blog for future updates. Also, send me your questions and I’ll try to answer them in future posts.


  1. All calls to the inmate voice mail system and those made from the phones in the housing units are recorded other than those to attorneys. 
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2 Comments
  1. Sarah Smith permalink

    Thanks Joe

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