Committee Votes To Close Old Dodge County Jail, Rejects New Jail Expansion

(Juneau) The Dodge County Board’s Building Committee voted four-to-one Thursday in favor of closing the old jail house and also against building an expansion onto the newer detention facility. The nearly 60-year-old structure is plagued with issues stemming from outdated video equipment, jail code problems, and rundown mechanical systems.

To address the issues, the sheriff’s office proposed a plan to add two new housing pods to the main jail. The plan would also give the jail enough space to continue its contract with the U.S. Marshals and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house detainees which brings in revenue to the county.

Dodge County Sheriff Lieutenant Jim Ketchem, who is challenging Sheriff Dale Schmidt in the August primary, says the old jail needs to close. He says in speaking with corrections officers they tell him that the jail is unsafe and needs to be shut down as soon as possible. Ketchem says he also against adding pods to the newer detention facility because it is fiscally irresponsible due to being understaffing.

Sheriff Schmidt says he has always been in favor of closing the old jail as long as the county board had all appropriate information regarding potential impacts before doing so. He says his office will follow whatever the final decision might be. He says his office will have to make the necessary budgetary adjustments if they are no longer able to house detainees.

The decision is only a recommendation with the county board still needing to vote on the matter. If approved, the jail would be closed by December 31 of this year. The county board will consider the plan during their July 17 meeting.