Voters to decide future of two eastern Iowa jails - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Voters to decide future of two eastern Iowa jails

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2 eastern Iowa counties are asking their voters to approve bonds to help build or remodel their jails.

Voters in Allamakee and Delaware Counties will vote May 5 to modernize and expand their jail facilities.

It comes after state inspectors outlined concerns over security and code violations.

The Delaware County Jail was built in 1967 and is a far cry from what most jails are like today.

The sheriff says the outdated design of the jail puts his deputies at risk, as well as the general public.

The common room at the Delaware County Jail is small, the paint is crackling, the doors are narrow, and there are jail bars.

The only indication you're not in 1975 is the security camera in the corner.

When it comes to opening the doors for an inmate, it's a manual process.

Deputies have to physically do it.

That's why the county is asking voters to approve a multi-million dollar referendum to modernize and expand the jail.

"It doesn't have to have a lot of plush but we still have to have basic rights because they still have rights and we need to do that for them," said Delaware County Supervisor Jeff Medlom.

The sheriff says it needs to be done for his deputies and the community at large.

"Inmates are not so nice. This is not Mayberry, where people are just dealing with Otis the Town Drunk and he's a piece of cake. We've had some very dangerous people in here and they think nothing of harming somebody to get what they want," said Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere.

Besides safety concerns, there's the space crunch.

The recreation area is away from the cells.

Meals and laundry are outsourced.

One of the changes that would be made is to the evidence room. It's currently in the basement of the former sheriff's residence which is next door to the Sheriff's Office. As you can see, they put evidence up on buckets to keep it safe.

"We need people to come here, see this facility firsthand, look at some of the problems we really have and I think they'll open their eyes to what we really need to do here," said Medlom.

The county will host an open house at the jail Saturday, April 25 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. so people can take a tour.

By the way, the 20-year bond would cost someone with a home valued at $100,000, about an extra $20 a year.

In Allamakee County, the county has been holding town-hall meetings this week on its $5.1 million bond.

It would pay for a new public safety center which would include a jail, sheriff's office, and dispatch center.

A town hall meeting is set for Friday, April 24 at 7 p.m. at the Dorchester Wings Supper Club.

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