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Sheriff: Dubuque County Jail upgrades will make for safer space, more efficient use of staff

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 9:43 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Dubuque County Sheriff Joe Kennedy said the COVID-19 pandemic made them realize they had to do something about the two larger housing units, each of them housing 49 inmates.

”We did not have enough places where we could put people and medically segregate them from people who are sick,” Kennedy said. “Keeping lower-risk inmates with other lower-risk inmates and hopefully prevent them or keep them from being victims to people that are here on higher classification crimes.”

Kennedy affirmed the solution to that is a $730,000 renovation project. The money comes from what’s leftover from the sheriff’s office budget.

”Formerly, what I have behind me here, that was an open mezzanine level to the jail,” Kennedy said. ”You can see where the steps used to be and they used to come down here and that is just being walled off to make a completely separate housing unit for the inmates “

This new housing will allow them to divide the space in half for a lower-level housing unit and a totally separate upper-level unit. The former 49-person housing unit also needed staffing 24/7, which, Kennedy said, will not be necessary anymore.

”By dividing this housing unit we no longer will have to do that, so it saves us all that manpower and those people can be assigned tasks in other places of the jail,” Kennedy said. “Obviously, we will still have to monitor these inmates. They will be monitored by camera and we will have regular rotations of deputies coming through here every 30 minutes or so.”

Because the jail population is low right now, Kennedy said they did not need to transfer any inmates to other jails. Even though they are tight on space, that did save the jail at least $30,000.

”They are in every nook and cranny, but we have got them all housed within the Dubuque County jail,” Kennedy said. “We have about every bed taken up that we could take up.”

The project was supposed to start in late April, but Kennedy said they struggled with getting some materials, so now they expect to have finished the renovations in October.

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