Published February 05 2012
Clay County Jail remodeling wraps upMOORHEAD – The Clay County Jail is expected to reach full inmate capacity again by Tuesday as a plumbing replacement project nears completion.
Work was wrapping up Friday in the last of four cell blocks renovated during the roughly two-month project, Jail Administrator Julie Savat said.
Inmates were housed at jails in Breckenridge and Crookston as their cell blocks were being renovated in the main Clay County Jail, which has 66 beds, Savat said. The annex has an additional 30 beds.
The project involved replacing the jail’s 45-year-old plumbing, and the showers, sinks and toilets. Grant’s Mechanical Inc. of Fargo was the project’s general contractor.
“It went really well,” Savat said. “We’re really pleased with the contractor we had.”
Not everyone was happy with the results, however.
Brandon Cain Simonson, an inmate who faces felony drug and burglary charges, among other charges, said he was scalded by hot water when he became one of the first inmates to use the newly plumbed showers in the northwest cell block on Jan. 24.
In a nine-page, handwritten letter dated Sunday and mailed to The Forum, Simonson wrote that the shower’s push-button control didn’t allow him to set the water temperature. He included pictures of reddened skin on his neck and arm, which he contends were second-degree burns that caused blistering.
After the incident, prisoners in the northwest cell block had to take cold showers as staff tried to fix the water temperature problem, Simonson wrote.
“Just because we are in jail, most awaiting trial or sentencing, are we to be treated like animals and made to suffer? I think not,” he wrote.
Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said he couldn’t discuss any possible burns because it would be a medical issue.
“I think that was the only time we had an issue (with the plumbing), which was just part of the whole renovation that they’re doing,” he said.
Simonson’s attorney, Johnathan Judd, declined to comment on his client’s letter.
Bergquist said the county eventually will have to build a new jail because of overcrowding that continues to force Clay County to send inmates to other counties.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528