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Third Ad Hoc jail committee approved

The creation of a third ad hoc jail committee was approved last Tuesday by the Pierce County Board, but not without a fair amount of debate and discussion.

The conversation started with former Supervisor Ron Bartels addressing the supervisors about the status of Wisconsin Senate Bill 648, which allows for prisoners to be imprisoned in a bordering county within or outside of the State of Wisconsin.

Both the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly approved the bill, and it is expected to be signed by Gov. Scott Walker soon, Bartels said.

The bill could have an impact on Pierce County’s search for a new jail location, as supervisors previously mentioned housing inmates in Goodhue County (Minn.), located in Red Wing, because it is closer than Pepin (Durand) or Dunn (Menomonie).

“This alternative should now be considered in the following ways,” Bartels said. “As a complete alternate to our existing facility; a supplement to a refurbishment of our existing jail facility; a supplement to a new jail facility adjacent to the courthouse; and as a supplement to a new jail facility, and refurbished of our existing courtrooms in our existing courthouse.”

Bartels said Goodhue is a 170-bed facility which had 69 inmates as of April 14.

Sheriff Nancy Hove said the problem previously with housing inmates in Goodhue was Pierce can transfer them down there, “it’s that we can’t get them back.” In addition, she said, when Pierce was forced to house inmates elsewhere, Goodhue’s costs were more than Pepin and Dunn.

She also summarized for those who didn’t know, the inmates who stay at Pierce are the ones needing the most attention and supervision, while those who don’t are shipped off to Pepin and Dunn.

New Supervisor Brian O’Connell commented it’s an alternative that should be studied, especially if their costs have changed. Supervisor Dale Auckland noted what concerns him the most in regard to transportation are the liability risks. Supervisor Jim Ross remarked, out of the jails he has toured, the most common theme he’s heard was they wish they could have studied it more. Auckland and Ross sat on the second ad hoc jail committee.

County Board Chairman Jeff Holst summarized it’s the supervisors’ responsibility to find a Jail solution that works best for the citizens of Pierce County, along with jail staff, at the right price.

The vote to establish a third ad hoc committee was 16-0, with Supervisor Scott Bjork absent. The third committee will consist of five individuals appointed by Holst.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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