Jackson County Jail

May might be a little too early for another jail bond referendum, according to Steve Schroeder.

The Jackson County chief deputy sheriff and Jail Advisory Committee chairman told the county Board of Supervisors on Dec. 18 that a vote in August (the next election date available after May) might be best “if we’re running short on time for the public awareness campaign.”

The supervisors have considered but not set a May referendum date as they hired a new consultant to oversee jail design.

“The last thing we want to do is rush things,” Schroeder said.

In August 2018, a bond referendum for a new jail fell short of the 60 percent needed to pass. Since then, the county has cut ties with its designer and continued to explore location options for a new facility.

State jail inspector Delbert Longley has given Jackson County Sheriff Russ Kettmann until the end of the year to respond to a letter concurring with shortcomings at the current jail found by the Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association during a fall tour of the facility.

The department responded the week before Christmas, Schroeder told the Sentinel-Press.

In his response, Sheriff Russ Kettmann outlined the committee’s steps since the election and asserted a commitment to the necessity of the project.

“The Iowa Department of Corrections inspections reports have addressed the same issues since 2014 and no other corrective action taken,” Longley wrote. “The Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association has addressed several issues the Iowa Jail Standards do not, but are not any less important.”

Some issues addressed by ISSDA include single-staffing at the jail, not providing for required breaks during a shift, suicide risks at the jail, lack of handicap accessibility and a small, unsafe booking area.