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November 12, 2018

4/13/2018 10:19:00 AM
Jail committee tours several facilities
(Writers Note: The Dodgeville Chronicle is working with the Iowa County Sheriff's department regarding the potential construction of a new law enforcement center. This is the second of a three-part series that compares the new proposed Iowa County Law Enforcement Center to similar county Law Enforcement Centers already set in place. The series will discuss the process from multiple perspectives.)
For quite some time, there has been much conversation about building a new jail in Iowa County. Functionality and space concerns have been factors into this consideration.
In response to this, the current Iowa County Jail building committee toured four different county jails. A new Iowa County Jail would meet many expectations including but not limited to:
• City water and sewer access
• Ample parking space
• Additional building acreage for positioning and pod locations; also potential to add courts to the campus
• Defined and inviting entrance
• Maintenance of clean sight lines from control room to pods (more pods with fewer inmates is favored compared to less pods for more inmates in a pod)
• Booking area: sight lines for special need cells and receiving cells (potential of a group holding cell)
• On-site medical suite with exam and record rooms
• Appropriate sized room allowing for future growth
• Locker rooms that separate outside clothing from inside clothing and controls contraband entering the jail facility
• Preventing contact between the public and inmates arriving and leaving the facility
• Pierce County was viewed via videoconference during the Feb. 12 committee meeting. Pierce County moved into a new facility in October of last year. The past facility had a 29-bed capacity, and the new facility occupies 80 beds. Pierce County now has five receiving cells: three medical/suicide watch cells and one padded cell. These cells are not included within the 80-bed occupancy. The new building has the potential of adding 40 more beds, and can accommodate 120 beds for kitchen, laundry and programming purposes. Pierce County is the only facility of four viewed that does not house Huber inmates.
The in-person tour took place on Feb. 26, with one media representative in attendance. The county jails visited were: Vernon County in Viroqua, Juneau County in Mauston, and Sauk County in Baraboo. Each visit gave information as to what separated one county jail from another.
The first jail visit was Vernon County.
Vernon County Jail was built in September 2005, and has a 128-bed capacity, larger than Iowa County's 36-bed capacity. In total, the facility is 60,000 square feet residing on approximately 12 acres. The building is set up the potential of doubling. It also has six pods and two Huber (work-release inmate) dorms. At the time of the visit, there were 20 inmates with Huber privileges, and 40 state inmates. In Huber transfer scenarios, only one Huber inmate is allowed in the holding area at a time. No personal items are allowed back in the jail area. The jail area set up had smaller pods, but larger pod quantity. This allows for inmate classification. The state conducts one cell check every hour, and four deputies are in the jail area for these checks.
The next visit was Juneau County. Juneau County jail has a 154-bed capacity and housed 52 state inmates at the time of the visit. There are two Huber dorms, with 22 beds per Huber, along with one eight-bed Huber. Huber inmates are able to enter and exit the same doors as the public. There are four deputies on site in the jail area: one in the central control room, one in booking, one in rover, and one in the Huber area. Juneau County was the only facility where the courtroom is attached to the same building for efficient inmate transfers.
The final on-site visit was the Sauk County jail. There are two separate jail areas: one is secured for higher classified inmates, while the non-secured area is reserved for a separate Huber section. Sauk County Jail is the only facility on the tour that has a "pre-booking area." This area is where blood draws, breathalyzers, and property collection are handled. There was also a booking area with multiple receiving cells and one suicide watch cell. In the central control area, red lines are made on the sides of the floor. Inmates are not allowed to step into the "red zones" of the floors. One concept that separated Sauk County from other facilities is there is a full-time classification officer that classifies high-low risk inmates.
After the tour, it was discussed by committee members that Vernon County was a favorite for many. While Vernon County was the favorite, the committee also recommended pulling ideas from Juneau, Sauk and Pierce Counties.

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