LAW & PUBLIC SAFETYJailJails Past and Present   

Jails Past and Present

A Historical View of Jail Operations  

1995 Jail

1923 Jail

1890 Jail


1995 Jail

1923 Jail

1890 Jail


St. Louis County provides a safe, secure and professionally operated Jail.  The Sheriff and Jail Administrator oversee a 197 bed jail in Duluth as well as two 72 hour lockup facilities on the Range.  The Hibbing lockup can accommodate 8 inmates and the Virginia lockup can hold 12 inmates.  These facilities consistently exceed Department of Corrections requirements and attempt to meet the growing needs of the State Court, Department of Corrections, Public Defender's Office, County Attorney's Office and other area stakeholders.

In addition, the St. Louis County Jail provides a safe, secure and clean facility for the citizens of St. Louis County. The St. Louis County Jail is an integral part of the criminal justice system; they cooperate with other agencies, share training resources, promote mutual respect and welcome community involvement. 

Current Jail Facility 1979 Jail Population 1941 Prisoner Cost 1923 Jail 1907 Jail Interior Photos 1898 County Jail 1891 Prisoner Boarding 1890 Jail 1889 Jail Stats Pre-1890 Information 1888 Expenses Construction Overview

Jail Overview:

The St. Louis County jail programs in Duluth, Hibbing, and Virginia, their buildings and the sheriffs in charge of them date from 1871.

In 1923, the St. Louis County Commissioners constructed a new county jail at 5th Avenue West and 2nd Street in Duluth to conform to the Burnham Plan for the Civic Center group of buildings.  This jail replaced the 1889 jail at 6th Avenue East and Third Street in Duluth. 

When the inmates were transferred to the new structure in the spring of 1925, the old building was remodeled and became the St. Louis County Alms House Dispensary: patients were transferred to it from the Poor Farm.  In 1933 it was renamed Hearding Hospital.  It continued to function as a dispensary to 1945.  Draftees were examined there during the war.  Beginning in 1947, the 1889 building that had lain vacant for 18 months was rented from the county for $50.00 a month for a rooming house business by Emma and George Zink.  The Zink's failed to pay the county and the lease was cancelled in the early 1950s.  Eight lots of county property and the three-story building were sold in July 1953 for a total of $1,100 to H.E. Farnam, a Duluth contractor.  The low price and conditions of sale were controversial.  The building was slated for immediate razing, but the demolition was not undertaken until March 1954.

The Minnesota department of Corrections decided in August 1985, to close the St. Louis County Jail in downtown Duluth unless the county took steps to bring the facility into compliance with state standards and codes.  The Department mandated appointment of a citizens' committee to review the compliance process.  The committee completed its review in July 1987, with a primary recommendation that St. Louis County build a new 146-bed jail in Duluth.  The committee also recommended that a second citizen group be appointed to examine the issues of corrections and jail needs from a broader perspective.  The second group, called the Criminal Justice System Study Committee, completed its work in March 1988, identified several key issues and made many recommendations.

The Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution unanimously March 24, 1992, to submit a Special Use Permit application to the City of Duluth Planning Department to approve a 26-acre site south of Swan Lake Road between Haines Road and Beede Road for the construction of a 70,000 square-foot, 2-story jail facility.  The proposal called for a 152-bed, full-service county jail.  The new St. Louis County Jail was opened on Haines Road in 1995.

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