Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
MANCHESTER (KWWL) -
It's a problem all over eastern Iowa: outdated county jails are unable to meet current state standards or keep up with the sheer number of inmates.
In Delaware County, officials are making the case for a new space.
Located in Manchester, the Delaware County jail can hold a maximum of 12 people. Officials say that's not enough to accommodate the number of inmates coming in.
Officials ranging from sheriff John LeClere to county supervisor Jeff Madlom say the current jail doesn't meet state requirements for housing females or juveniles.
"Those are issues that we're looking at with our jail inspector, and they have been good working with us. They understand this jail was built in 1967, doesn't meet the standards," Madlom said. "The doors are still open and closed by cables. They're old fashioned. The new jail will be so much more secure."
The county routinely has more inmates than it can accommodate, so it has to pay Buchanan County to house the overflow inmates.
"Our cost is $8,300 in January for six prisoners in Buchanan County," Madlom said.
The problem, officials are saying, is a mix of aging facilities and changing times.
"Years ago we may have had three, four prisoners," Madlom said. "We didn't have the issues that are going on: the murders, the attempted murders. Little counties like Delaware County shouldn't have murders. We're not used to that and we're having them."
The county plans on demolishing the old sheriff's house, which is now just used as a kitchen and storage space. Plans for the remodel include a new addition to the jail in the old house's place, expanding the maximum inmate capacity to 32.
County officials estimate the price tag for the jail update at around $4 million. It's a bond issue supervisors hope to put to voters later this year, Madlom said.
The push for a jail update was reignited after a Delaware County jail inmate escaped from the facility in November. He made his escape by attacking a jailer, stealing the man's keys and fleeing in the jailer's car. Officials found the man, 20-year-old Tim Reynolds, in December in Indiana.
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