Dodge County Sheriff’s Candidates Discuss Old Jail Closure, Contract Beds

(Juneau) The candidates for Dodge County Sheriff had the opportunity to join WBEV’s Community Comment recently to discuss the issues. Sheriff’s Lt. Jim Ketchem is challenging incumbent Sheriff Dale Schmidt on the August ballot. The county board this month voted in favor of closing the old jail at years end and also against building an expansion onto the newer detention facility. To address the issues, the sheriff’s office proposed a plan that would have added either one or two new housing pods on to the new jail. The plan would also give the main facility enough space to continue its contract with U.S. Marshals and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house detainees, which is estimated to bring in close to $2-million dollars in revenue annually. Ketchem says building an addition would not be a wise use of money considering there is uncertainty on whether or not the county will still be able to house federal detainees. He says the federal government is looking to build contract facilities with private prison companies’ meaning that there could be a decrease in number of immigration holds that Dodge County could get. Ketchem says if that comes to pass it might not be cost effective to keep the contract beds going. Schmidt, who has always been in favor of closing the old jail, disagrees. He says the program has been in place for fifteen years under many different sheriffs and there have been very few issues. Schmidt says he does not foresee a decrease in the number of criminal aliens that need to be housed in detention facilities.