FOLEY -- As county jail numbers continue to rise in some areas of Minnesota and across the country, some counties are actually reaping the benefits of over-populated jails.

Benton County built a new jail in 1996 and made it large enough to handle future inmate growth. Sheriff Troy Heck says in the meantime, they can generate revenue from the extra space.

On average, about 50% of the inmates held in Foley are from Benton County.  The other 50% are made up of federal prisoners, state prisoners and inmates from nearby counties. In all, housing inmates from outside Benton County generates about 10% of their annual operating expenses.

In 2014, Benton County captured $224,657 from Stearns County inmates, $31,295 from Sherburne County and nearly $18,000 from Mille Lacs County.  The state of Minnesota also housed prisoners there and paid the county $71,445 and the federal government paid Benton County $34,721 to house their prisoners.

Heck says their jail is usually running at 75-80% capacity and have the space to accommodate inmates from within their county.

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