The completion of an unfinished unit at the Jasper County Jail is expected to increase the number of inmates at the facility and draw in additional revenue.
Jasper County Supervisors on Tuesday gave Sheriff John Halferty the green light to move forward with the project that taps unused space at the jail. Halferty said the completed jail pod could potentially hold eight to 10 inmates with no additional staff needed to man the area. The jail currently has an 84 inmate capacity.
“More recently, a couple of opportunities have arisen that might be beneficial for us to finish the pod,” Halferty said. “In-house wise, many times inmates have to be segregated based on their charges or their behavior or their inability to get along with other inmates. Having another pod finished where we can move someone that is either a problem or needs additional protection would be a benefit.”
Financially, the county has an opportunity to increase revenues further with the ability to hold additional inmates from Warren County. Due to Warren County’s inability to house its full inmate population, Jasper County has been housing a number of its prisoners at the jail in Newton. Halferty said for this fiscal year, he originally estimated a revenue of $35,000 but the county is already at more than $102,000 in revenue.
“Currently, our billing monthly, conservatively, is about $12,000 for holding inmates,” Halferty said. “I also want to be conservative, but I will state at the end of this month there is a potential that they may have additional jail issues or not be able to hold more inmates, so we may see that revenue increase.”
Shive-Hattery Engineering firm has looked at the unused space at the jail and initially estimated about $118,000 to finish the pod, Halferty said. In the dorm-style space, bunks and tables that were at the old jail building could be used to help on costs.
“I spoke with a Warren County supervisor, and he is pretty clear that they aren’t going to be doing anything anytime soon,” supervisor Doug Cupples said. “Basically, you are saying it will pay for itself in 10 months if we did the whole $118,000.”
Cupples also asked if it is possible in this fiscal year’s budget for the excess revenue to pay for the expansion. Auditor Dennis Parrott said if the jail stays on course and with the low estimate of $12,000 per month in revenue, an additional $139,000 will be brought into the county. With those funds, the expansion could be paid for without any problems in the budget.
Jody Eaton, CEO of Central Iowa Community Services, said for mental health, the benefit of the expansion would be having the Warren County prisoners here where services are already set up, rather than in another region.
“From the mental health standpoint, getting people to services quickly is a plus,” Eaton said.
Halferty said he would move forward with getting contractor bids for the work involved with the expansion and bring them back to the board for approval.
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or firstname.lastname@example.org