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April 24, 2019

3/18/2019 8:45:00 AM
Plan for law enforcement center moves forward
The future of a new law enforcement center has been discussed for quite some time.
At Monday's jail building committee meeting, there were multiple areas of discussion, adding to the county's need of a new law enforcement center.
Safety was a major highlight of discussion, which was lead by Jail Administrator Pam Steffes. She presented a spreadsheet highlighting a daily inmate count, based on an inmate's hold status. With inmate classification (high risk, medium risk, low risk, special needs), and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), there were some recent red flags that occurred, adding to the need.
Steffes pointed out that people often tend to hyperfocus on the number of beds, instead of how inmates are housed. There is a certain amount of beds that need to stay open, and with the current facilities layout, it can become hard to meet that.
In the month of February, a male inmate was housed alone in a four man block, due to multiple physical and verbal altercations with other inmates. That housing situation took away from the current jail's maximum housing of 35 inmates.
In order to do that, two female inmates were moved to Sauk County on February 15. On February 16, there were two female arrests. Functionality has also become a concern as working and non-working (Huber) inmates have been housed together, creating a higher risk of contraband exchanges.
Steffes informed committee members that the current Iowa County jail is not just a criminal holding facility, it is also a holding place for individual refusing to pay child support as well as those in out of state extradition situations.
The numbers shown do not necessarily imply that the facilty is full at 35 beds, but classifications, holding cell specifications, and other factors indicate that causes inmates to be housed elsewhere.
"I find it only fair that I provide you with some of these issues that show that these numbers don't speak much," Steffes said."This is the kind of thing that we need to make sure that people are understanding about why we're needing a new facility."
The floor plan for the new facility has also now been decided. At the last meeting it was determined to build a facility of 70-75,000 square feet.
Representatives from Potter Lawson Architects came to present two floor plan options for the law enforcement center. Currently, the square footage would exclude a second courtroom but would still allow for one in the future if chosen.
By committee member choosing the site design, it allowed Potter Lawson the opportunity to present the draft floor plan at a near future meeting.
Nathan White, inspector for the facilty, said that he was optimistic that the day would come to consider looking at a new facility.
"It's long overdue frankly," White said. "Pam did an excellent job articulating some of the real challenges that the staff faces on a day to day basis at the current building."
White added, "Certainly if there's an opportunity to see what a newer or more modern day correctional facility looks like, I would definitely encourage you to take advantage of that. It's a night and day difference. I just appreciate the opportunity to be involved, and see what the future looks like."
White will be at schematic design meetings as they move forward.





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