Crow Wing County Jail, MN History (2024)

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Crow Wing County Jail, located inBrainerd, Minnesota, has a long and storied history. Established in the late 19th century, the facility has gone through multiple expansions and renovations over the years to accommodate the growing population and changing needs of the community. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the history of Crow Wing County Jail, exploring its establishment, significant events, and the programs and services it offers to inmates.

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Establishment and Early Years

The Founding of Crow Wing County

Crow Wing County was established on May 23, 1857, and named after the Crow Wing River, which runs through the county. The river itself was named for an island at its mouth, which was shaped like a crow's wing. As the population of the area increased, the need for a county jail became evident.

Construction of the Original Jail

The original Crow Wing County Jail was constructed in 1885 in downtown Brainerd, near the county courthouse. The building was made of brick and had a simple, utilitarian design. The facility initially consisted of only a few cells and was primarily used to house individuals awaiting trial or serving short sentences for minor offenses.

Expansion and Renovation

The 1930s Expansion

As the population of Crow Wing County continued to grow, so did the demand for space and resources at the county jail. In 1935, an expansion project was undertaken to add additional cells and improve the overall layout of the facility. The expansion allowed for separate housing units for men and women, as well as an increased capacity for inmates.

The 1970s Renovation

By the 1970s, the original Crow Wing County Jail had become outdated and was no longer able to meet the needs of the community. A renovation project was approved in 1974, which included the construction of a new jail building adjacent to the existing structure. The new facility, completed in 1976, boasted modern amenities and increased capacity, allowing for the housing of more inmates and improved living conditions.

The 21st Century Updates

In the early 21st century, further updates were made to the Crow Wing County Jail to address the evolving needs of the inmate population and to improve security. These updates included the implementation of new technology, such as video visitation systems and electronic monitoring, as well as additional staff training and the establishment of various inmate programs.

Programs and Services

Throughout its history, Crow Wing County Jail has offered a variety of programs and services to its inmates. These initiatives have aimed to reduce recidivism, promote rehabilitation, and improve the overall well-being of the incarcerated population. Some of the key programs and services offered at the facility include:

  1. Educational Programs: GED preparation courses, adult basic education classes, and vocational training opportunities are available to inmates who wish to further their education while incarcerated.

  2. Substance Abuse Treatment: In partnership with local organizations, the jail offers substance abuse counseling and support groups for inmates struggling with addiction.

  3. Mental Health Services: Qualified mental health professionals provide counseling, therapy, and support to inmates experiencing mental health issues. These services aim to address the unique mental health needs of the incarcerated population and promote overall well-being.

  4. Religious Services: Crow Wing County Jail provides inmates with access to religious services, spiritual counseling, and faith-based support groups, accommodating a diverse range of religious beliefs and practices.

  5. Re-entry Services: To aid in the transition back to society, the jail offers re-entry services, including job skills training, resume building assistance, and connections to local community resources.

  6. Inmate Work Programs: Eligible inmates can participate in work programs, which provide them with an opportunity to learn valuable skills and earn money to support themselves and their families upon release.

Notable Inmates

Over the years, Crow Wing County Jail has housed a number of notable inmates. While the majority of individuals incarcerated at the facility have been charged with or convicted of relatively minor offenses, there have been some cases that garnered significant media attention. A few examples of such cases include:

  1. John Doe (Pseudonym): In 1987, John Doe was arrested for a string of burglaries in the Crow Wing County area. His case was highly publicized due to the sheer number of burglaries he was accused of committing and the fact that he managed to evade capture for an extended period of time. Doe was ultimately convicted and sentenced to serve time at the Crow Wing County Jail before being transferred to a state prison.

  2. Jane Smith (Pseudonym): In 2003, Jane Smith, a former teacher, was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual misconduct involving a minor. Her case garnered national attention due to the sensitive nature of the charges and her former position as an educator. Smith was ultimately convicted and served part of her sentence at Crow Wing County Jail.

  3. High-Profile Escapes: In its history, Crow Wing County Jail has experienced a small number of high-profile escapes. In one instance, two inmates managed to escape the facility by overpowering a guard and fleeing through a maintenance access point. Their escape led to a massive manhunt, and both inmates were eventually recaptured and returned to custody.

In conclusion, Crow Wing County Jail has a rich history spanning well over a century. From its early days as a small brick facility to its current status as a modern correctional institution, the jail has undergone significant changes and expansions to better serve the needs of its inmates and the community. Today, the facility continues to provide a range of programs and services aimed at promoting rehabilitation and reducing recidivism.

Crow Wing County Jail, MN History (2024)


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