Sheriff, supes discuss jail shortfalls

The need for a new jail facility was discussed at the county supervisors meeting Monday as sheriff Jack Williams shared the report from a state inspection of the facility earlier in the month.

The inspector’s comments were no surprise, as they’ve been the same for several years.
The Code of Iowa requires that inmates held longer than seven days have exercise time outside their cell. Currently, the exercise space is in the basement, requiring inmates to be taken through non-secure areas of the building. The inspector noted that it creates a safety and security concern for the public, staff and prisoners. “This area of weakness was highlighted with an escape from custody in the past,” states a letter from the inspector to the supervisors.

Inmate visitation poses the same problem. Inmates are moved from the secure area of the jail to the office area, and visitors also go through the office to get to the visitation room. The inspector suggested that video visitation would remedy the problem.

The inspector stated that meeting Iowa jail standards is “nearly impossible due to the structural design of the jail facility.”

He added, “Greene County jail is an older facility that is clean and well-managed. The facility is outdated and staff is doing a tremendous job with a facility that does not meet current needs of the prisoners, staff or public.”

Adding on to the current jail is not an option, supervisor Dawn Rudolph said, as that would end the “grandfather” status of the building. An addition would require the entire building to comply with all current requirements.

Williams said the jail inspector advised that a new jail would have to have at least 20 beds with four segregated areas to meet the requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). The current jail has eight cells, all in one area.

Williams has received a very preliminary plan for a new jail from one consulting firm, but there are no plans to proceed in the foreseeable future.

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