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

1890 Line Drawing

Floor plan of 1890 Jail

1890 Jail

Line Drawing
Source: excerpt from the Fourth Biennial Report – State Board of Corrections and Charities – dated October 31, 1890
Floor Plan
Source: excerpt from the Fourth Biennial Report – State Board of Corrections and Charities – dated October 31, 1890
Source: Images of America Duluth Minnesota by Maryanne C. Norton and Sheldon T. Aubut


  • Design: In 1889, Oliver Traphagen designed the red brick county jail that also held the sheriff's living quarters.  The jail was located at 614 East Third Street.  The Sheriff and his family lived in the front section of the building and the rear held cells.  The Sheriff's wife cooked meals for the prisoners.  (Source: Images of America Duluth Minnesota by Maryanne C. Norton and Sheldon T. Aubut)
  • Last legal hanging:  The old building's most infamous use was in 1903, as the site of the last legal hanging in the State of Minnesota.  Capital punishment was outlawed in the state in 1911.  Charles E. L. Henderson was hanged in Judge Cant's court room for killing his mistress Ida McCormick on the night of June 21, 1902.  The attending sheriff at the trial and hanging was Sheriff W.W. Butchart. 


Management of County Jails  - 1894 Jail Rules

By Paul Sharvey, Sheriff of St. Louis County

The proper management of a county jail depends somewhat upon the conditions by which the sheriff is surrounded and the cooperation of certain officials, such as county commissioners and district judges.

The following are the rules in force in our county:

  1. When a person is taken into custody he will be required to leave all money and effects in the sheriff’s office.
  2. Each person will be kept in his own cell.
  3. Prisoners will be required to keep their cells clean, and to empty their cell buckets twice each day, and to keep their person and clothing clean.
  4. Prisoners will be required to take a bath once a week.
  5. Prisoners will not be allowed to lie upon their beds in the day time unless sick. Hammocks must be kept rolled up.
  6. Prisoners requiring more exercise than can be had in their cells may be allowed to exercise, one at a time, in the centre corridor. They must walk briskly up and down the corridor, until they are returned to their cell. Any effort to converse with other prisoners will be promptly punished.
  7. No one will be allowed to deface or soil the walls of this jail in any manner.
  8. No loud talking, singing, whistling or obscene or profane language will be allowed.
  9. Prisoners are forbidden to speak or motion to any one through the windows.
  10. No disrespectful or impertinent behavior to officer or visitors or to fellow prisoners will be tolerated.
  11. The use of intoxicating liquor is prohibited. Those using tobacco must spit only in the spittoons provided for that purpose, and must wash them out once each day.
  12. Prisoners may receive visitors by permission of the sheriff, and under such conditions as he may prescribe.
  13. All letters and parcels passing in and out of the jail must be subject to the sheriff’s inspection before delivering.
  14. Complaints and requests of prisoners should be made to the sheriff, and all such will receive due attention.
  15. Written or verbal orders will be given to officers and prisoners as occasion may arise for issuing them, which will have the same force as these rules.
  16. For disobeying these rules or any other lawful order, either verbal or written, such punishment will be given as is provided by law.
  17. Visitors may call on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:45 to 11 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m. and stay a reasonable length of time, of which the turnkey shall be judge, but no visitor will be allowed to see or talk to a prisoner except in the presence of one of the turnkeys.
  18. Avoid throwing anything in wash basins, buckets or sinks which will clog up the pipes.

Source: Minnesota State Conference of Charities and Correction – 1894

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