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Size not only jail focus

There is more to planning the new Kewaunee County Jail than just the size of it. Statistics released by Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski show over 630 people have been booked at the facility so far in 2019 with stays ranging from one day to 289 days. Thirty-three people are behind bars on average daily at the Kewaunee County Jail. That is 11 people above its recommended maximum capacity. Joski says bigger is not necessarily better if you do not have all the pieces in the right places.

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The county’s jail planning committee recently wrapped up its tour of neighboring facilities as it digs deeper into phase two of the process. Joski credits his staff and local partnerships for making the current jail facility usable since it was built in 1968. 

 

In this week’s article I would like to continue my yearend report by sharing some information and data in regards to our Jail facility. The current Kewaunee County Jail was built in 1968. It has a housing capacity of 22 with three short term holding cells which brings the total to 25. By law a county jail is intended to hold individuals for up to one year. Any sentences beyond one year are remanded to a state correctional facility. While we do hold the title of the oldest and smallest jail in the State of Wisconsin, I am deeply grateful to the County Board and the community in general for the support which has been provided in regards to the planning and ultimate updating of our facility.

          The Jail is staffed by 14 Deputies, who carry out the various duties which are set forth by state statute, federal law, as well as department policy. These men and women are also tasked with the duties of Dispatcher which is very unique in the State of Wisconsin. I believe that there are only a handful of Departments which are still configured in this manner and it speaks volumes as to the professionalism and competence of these men and women.

           Every person arrested in Kewaunee County is processed through our jail and the following are some of the most common criteria for bookings so far in 2016 which stand at 631.

          The first is that we call non- custody bookings. These are bookings that occur when the individual is not physically arrested. This may be in the case where the offense was not immediately reported, and it is through investigations that the probable cause for an arrest summons was completed. It could also be where we are not able to locate the suspect at the time of the event, and we are able to send charges up to the District Attorney’s Office for his consideration. These bookings account for 258 of the total bookings.

           The next most frequent category is pre-sentence bookings at 150. These are bookings which are for those who are currently awaiting the completion of their court process but do not meet bail criteria. These can be some of our lengthiest stays as the legal process itself is complex and lengthy at times.

            In third place we have a tie between warrant pickups and probation holds. These two are actually quite similar as they are the result of a failure to comply with either a court order in the case of warrants or probation rules in the case of Community Corrections. These tend to be our shortest stays. But account for a great deal of the total bookings. If you have found yourself within the courts system it is vital that you understand and comply with the various courts dates as well as requirements so as to avoid being one the unfortunate within this category. The same is true for probation clients. Many of those on probation forget that this is a privilege and an alternative to incarceration which brings with it many rules. It is incumbent on the individual to know and comply with these rules to avoid a return visit to jail or in some cases a state correctional facility.

        So many ask what our daily population is here in Kewaunee County. As I stated earlier our maximum capacity if 22 and to date for 2019 our daily population average stands at 33.04 with males representing 27.51 and females 5.53 throughout the year. The average stay is approx. 9 days with the shortest stay at approx. 1 hour and the longest stay at 289 days.

        To meet the daily overcrowding in our facility we make use of two primary resources; out of county facilities, primarily Door County, and the use of electronic monitoring. For the most part those who we send to Door County are the female inmates which take pressure off of our scheduling requirements to have both male and female staffing when we have females in our facility. Electronic monitoring is utilized for those who have been granted work release by the courts and meet the many requirements we have to guarantee compliance in return for this privilege. I want to acknowledge Lt. Chris VanErem our Jail Administrator for the amazing work that he and his staff do on a daily basis to balance the constant demands of the inmates, the courts, and the many regulations with the limited resources both in budget and facility.

          Along with the duties of Jailer and Dispatcher, these men and women also facilitate all of the transports which are required not only locally but many times across the state to bring inmates to Kewaunee County for court as well as monitoring the Huber Program (Work Release) and Court Security. These men and women give multi tasking a whole new dimension and we are fortunate to have them serving in these roles to keep our community safe. Contrary to some beliefs, these Deputies are Law Enforcement Officers just as their counterparts in Patrol and Investigations and are a vital component of the Criminal Justice System. Next week I will share some information from 2016 as it relates to our Patrol Division. 

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