Jackson County Sheriff urges people to vote for new jail

The Jackson County Sheriff said he is concerned the county jail will be shut down if the...
The Jackson County Sheriff said he is concerned the county jail will be shut down if the measure does not pass on Tuesday.
Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 10:03 PM CST
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MAQUOKETA, Iowa (KCRG) - Jackson County officials are asking voters to consider the construction of a new county jail in a special election next Tuesday.

A county resident with a $100,000 home would see a property tax increase of about $17 per year.

Jackson County Sheriff Brent Kilburg said, though, he believes taxpayers would end up paying more in the long-run if the measure does not pass.

The Jackson County jail was built 50 years ago and Sheriff Kilburg said to TV9 it has been overdue for a makeover for at least 20 years.

The decision to build a new jail has been up for a vote two times before. Both times it has been struck down.

However, Sheriff Kilburg said he feels optimistic this time the outcome might be different.

“We started too high, then we maybe were too low or whatever the variables were,” he said. “Now I think we have got it honed in to what the community feels is acceptable, the size, the cost, all those things, so we are really hoping it passes this time.”

Kilburg confessed he is concerned of what might happen if they do not move forward with a new jail soon.

He said one of his main concerns is safety.

The jail is mostly comprised of very small rooms and narrow hallways, which the sheriff said could put employees in a dangerous situation.

As we toured the facility, Sheriff Kilburg showed us how the old building could put the employees lives in danger.

He also said he is concerned for the inmates safety. That is where liability comes in: an unsafe jail opens the door to potential lawsuits.

The current jail can house up to 16 inmates. Any more than that would have to be transferred to another jail, which would cost taxpayers 60 dollars per inmate per day.

Sheriff Kilburg told TV9 he is worried another no on Tuesday’s election could mean “three-strikes-you-are-out” for the jail.

“If it does not pass the third time I do not know what the jail inspector is going to say,” he said.

Kilburg explained other county jails, like in Warren and Taylor counties, have already been shut down because they do not comply with current state and federal mandated requirements.

If the county jail is shut down, they would still need to bring offenders in, but would have to then move them to another jail at the taxpayers’ expense.

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