GUTHRIE CENTER, Iowa — Guthrie County is asking residents to put more tax dollars toward a new jail facility that would cost more than $8 million.
The Guthrie County Jail was constructed in 1963 and was originally only supposed to house 10 inmates and five employees. With the booming meth issue in rural Iowa, their staff has more than doubled in the past ten years.
Because there’s also an increase in inmates, some are forced to sleep on the floor and live in less than humane conditions. However, the Sheriff’s office wants to be clear that this new referendum is not about keeping the inmates cozy.
“This is about safety, security, and following the laws that are set forth by the safe state of Iowa. This is not about comfort for the inmates,” Deputy Sheriff, Kent Gries said.
Beverly Wild, a resident who was an attorney in the area for more than 25 years said the county has never seen these types of crimes committed in Guthrie either.
“We had lots of burglaries. And, you know, and that sort of stuff, but we didn’t have people who were using guns and are so quick to want to shoot somebody,” Wild said.
There’s only one place of entry and exit for inmates in the current jail. This means they often have interactions with staff and the general public no matter the offense. The current Guthrie County Jail also doesn’t have enough room for the proper separation of inmates by gender or offense.
“It’s not safe or secure for the inmates, for staff, and for the public. The people that are coming into the courthouse,” Officer Gries said.
Not only does this facility not have enough room for staff to handle day to day procedures or to keep the public away from inmates, but this building is also housing a fire hazard.
“Anytime we have heavy snowmelt or rain, our generator room which houses all of our critical infrastructure as far as communications, Radio 911, stuff like that the backup generator, that room gathers water,” Gries said.
Officer Gries said trying to renovate their current space wouldn’t be enough. Resident and former officer, Steve Landon, said that from experience he knows the Sheriff’s office is doing the best they can do
“They’ve done a phenomenal job. I admire one, their dedication and doing more with less,” Landon said.
If this referendum doesn’t get passed, this could be a bigger problem for Guthrie County than the public knows.
“Should someone fall, get hurt, commit suicide, we’re one incident away from litigation and it could cost the county a lot more than the $8.5 million that we’re looking to have a jail for,” Landon said.
Residents in Guthrie County can currently send in an absentee vote, the last day to vote will be March 3rd.
To tour the current facility and see models of the new Guthrie County Jail Center visit the Guthrie County Vote website.
The post Guthrie County in Need of a New $8 Million Jail Facility first appeared on Iowa Media.