MANKATO — It’s all only a Web site away now.
Mothers looking for their wayward sons, friends searching for a buddy who didn’t make it home from the bar Saturday night, bondsmen targeting potential customers and news outlets in search of mug shots can now find what they need through the Internet in Blue Earth County.
It’s called the “Jail Custody Roster” and it’s available by logging on to the Blue Earth County Web site.
Much like a program that has been providing property information to real estate agents, insurance adjusters, nosey neighbors and others looking for values and descriptions of land and buildings in the county, the Blue Earth County Jail roster is now available to anybody with access to the Internet.
The site provides a list of people in jail, why they’re there, whether their bail has been set and when they’re expected to be released if they’re serving a sentence.
Paul Bogenschutz, jail administrator, said putting the roster online is a service to citizens and a way to reduce staff work loads. The jail gets dozens of calls each day from people wondering if a friend or relative has been arrested, or wanting copies of the jail roster for other reasons. It’s similar to a Web site Hennepin County has been using for awhile.
“We want people to have this information available to them when they want it,” he said.
The software that creates the roster for the Web site is part of a much more complex system that feeds information to jailers, dispatchers, people serving court papers for the county and patrol officers on the streets, Bogenschutz added.
The roster is updated automatically by the computer system at 4:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Photographs and fingerprints still have to be added manually when time is available, but new software can be added to the existing system to pull that information automatically as well.
The Internet jail roster is the latest addition to a plan by the county to provide “e-government” services, said Charlie Berg, director of information services. Another service that will be coming soon as an automatic e-mail updating system that will send out meeting agendas, news letters and other information to people who provide their e-mail addresses.
Providing as much information as possible online is a service to constituents, he said.
“If they can find what they need themselves, they’re happier,” Berg said. “The overall goal is to get the information into the hands of the people who need it faster. A nice byproduct is it reduces the telephone work that has to be done.”
Bogenschutz said he’d planned to have the jail roster online sooner, but it took longer than expected to work some bugs out of the system. Overall, it was worth the work when you consider the way things were done when he started working in the jail during the 1980s, he said.
Before the jail started using computers in 1987, one of Bogenshutz’s jobs during night shifts was to type the roster. Having more than 25 people in jail back then was considered a busy night. Now the average nightly population is about 70 inmates, so it’s nice to have an automated system, he said.”
“Working with computers is always a challenge,” Berg added. “But what we’re here for is to make things work.”
The roster can be found by clicking the “Jail Custody Roster” button at www.co.blue-earth.mn.us.
List is latest addition to a plan to provide ‘e-government’ services
MANKATO — It’s all only a Web site away now.
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