Kewaunee County taking time with jail study

Kewaunee County officials would rather do the job right than complete it quickly when it comes to creating its new jail. Two companies, Venture and Stollo, have reached out to the county since the Request for Qualifications was released earlier this year. It is the first step in a multi-phase approach that includes looking into the facility’s operational programming and its schematic design. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says the deliberate pace of the process is on purpose.

The new facility would replace the current jail that is the state’s oldest and smallest. According to the minutes from the latest Law Enforcement/Emergency Management Committee meeting, Kewaunee County could be $60,000 over budget when it comes to its Board of Prisoners line due to housing additional inmates in Door and Oconto counties. You can read the rest of Sheriff Matt Joski’s update on the jail online with this story.  


I thought I would take a moment to provide an update to our efforts in regards to the study of our current jail facility. I had reported a few weeks ago that we had developed a request for qualifications (RFQ) which was subsequently made public and responded to by various consultant organizations. Currently we have two companies who are interested in assisting us in our journey to determine the best options for how we provide not just housing but services to those who are remanded to our care. As you might remember we broke down the process into three phases. The First Phase will be a needs assessment which will focus on our current data, facilities, and services providing a comprehensive picture of not only where we are as a justice community but also where we may find ourselves in the years to come. This will involve looking at everything from current regulations and statutory requirements to an evaluation of our current staffing.


     The second Phase would focus on operational programming. This to me is the most exciting of the three phases as it begins to incorporate the latest in criminal justice reforms, programming as well as alternatives to incarceration. It is through the effective application of these philosophies that we can have not only an impact on the scope and size of the possible facility, but more importantly to make a real difference in the lives of those who find themselves involved in our local criminal justice system. Ultimately the goal of any correctional facility should be to change behavior so as to transition individuals from a life of bad decisions to a life of good decisions. In order to do this we must look at each and every one of them as individual human beings with unique experiences which have lead them to their current reality. This may involve approaching them from an addiction treatment perspective, a mental health matter, or a skills development need. It may also involve a new approach known as trauma informed care.


       The third and final phase is the actual schematic design of a potential facility. The successful execution of this phase in crucial because it will set the stage for all future efficiencies in regards to operations and staffing. Although this is usually the phase that gets the most attention due to the fact that there are actually architectural renditions and visual aids, it is truly the byproduct of our ability to be effective in the first two phases. This phase will also incorporate the discussion regarding the site selection for the facility. Again this specific consideration is extremely important not only from an effective facility planning perspective, but also from a community support perspective. Just as any of us want to be good neighbors to those near our homes, this facility should also be something that the entire community can be very proud of.


         It is anticipated that a consultant will be chosen in the next few weeks and with the selection we can begin a process that I am confident will result in not just a new facility, but even more importantly an improved ability to change lives for the better and ultimately result in a greater sense of self worth and dignity for those whom we interact with daily throughout our criminal justice system. For those who may have any questions on this process as well as questions about our current facility, I welcome any chance to discuss or even provide a tour of our current jail. I can always be reached at (920)388-7177.

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