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Kewaunee County corrections processing goes down in 2020

Less time was spent by fewer people at the Kewaunee County Jail in 2020. Data provided by Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski shows 529 people being processed at the jail so far in 2020, down by about 100 compared to 2019. That helped keep the daily population average closer to its 22 person capacity at 23.5 people compared to approximately 33 the year before. The average stay also shortened by a day from nine to eight. Much like the number of dispatch calls it received in 2020, Joski believes the pandemic had something to do with the drop.

Joski says in many cases if the person was not a danger to the community, they opted for electronic monitoring over incarceration and other strategies to limit possible exposure. You can see more of a breakdown of the corrections numbers from Joski below.



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 sentenced 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. I will be providing an update on that planning process in an upcoming article.


          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. In this year of COVID-19 their commitment has been tested as in no other year. We have taken numerous steps to minimize exposure to both them as well as the inmates in our care. This has meant modifying schedules, restricting access, and a constant regiment of cleaning and disinfecting.


           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 2020 which stand at 529.

          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 274 of the total bookings.


           The next most frequent category is pre-sentence bookings at 142. 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. Due to the pandemic, much of our criminal justice system has incorporated processes to limit the spread and as a result many court cases along with sentencing had been postponed, thus impacting our daily population and extending some stays beyond the traditional time period. As I stated earlier, our maximum capacity is 22 and to date for 2020 our daily population average stands at 23.5 with males representing 19.59 and females 3.91 throughout the year. The average stay is approx. 8 days with the shortest stay at approx. 1 hour and the longest stay at 576 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 2020 as it relates to our Patrol Division.


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