With voters saying no, Johnson Co. justice center weighs options - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

With voters saying no, Johnson Co. justice center weighs options

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JOHNSON COUNTY (KWWL) - It's an ongoing question: How can Johnson County get voters to approve bond measures to fix issues at the jail and courthouse?

In May 2013 and November 2012, voters turned down the idea for a justice center that would cost more than $40 million.

"We have a real problem when it comes to space, safety and security at our courthouse, and the same for our jail," said Terrence Neuzil, Johnson County Board Chairperson.

Thursday, the Board of Supervisors began moving forward with a concept that would place a jail annex and a courthouse annex as separate issues on the ballot.

"We'd like to see at least one of those pass," said Neuzil. "We, of course, want to have both."

The courthouse annex would add six courtrooms and address some security issues. The jail annex would add 100 beds. Each project would cost around $25 million.

The last two times this issue came up on the ballot there was a group here in Johnson County that vocally opposed a new Justice Center.

The groups says they're not so much against changes to the courthouse, but they do have a problem with adding beds to the jail.

"It endorses the current policies of over-prosecution and over-aggressive policing," said John Zimmerman, who opposes the justice center.

Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek was unavailable for comment, but has been very vocal about needs at the jail.

Designs for these proposals will begin soon and could change in the coming months.

A vote is expected later this year, likely in November.
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