Sheriffs say overcrowded county jails stem from state prisons

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All across Siouxland, county jails are bursting at the seams and looking to expand. It's a problem with its roots beyond Siouxland.

SIOUXLAND (KCAU)– Woodbury County has a jail overcrowding problem, and it’s not alone. Floyd County in northern Iowa has a new jail project, and Monona County is also looking for answers for overcrowding.

All across Siouxland, county jails are bursting at the seams and looking to expand. It’s a problem with its roots beyond Siouxland.

“I think people that commit crimes should be jailed, but I think why? What’s the reason? Do we have people that can help these people maybe they won’t be out there committing all these crimes,” said Genny Newhouse, who lives in Sioux City.

The number of people in county jails across Siouxland has deputies scrambling to find more space.

“We are currently a 12-bed facility, and we are running at capacity or over capacity and have been doing that for the past four years. So we believe that through our jail committee that this is our best option for the county is to look at building a new facility,” said Jeff Pratt, the Monona County sheriff.

Monona County is looking to build a new Law Enforcement Center with 32 beds and the ability to expand further, but the Monona County Sheriff Jeff Pratt said the crowding problem extends beyond his county.

“The prisons are full and so when the prisons are full they push back to the counties and the counties have to hold for a longer period of time and inmates that require just not as long of a jail stay end up staying in the county jail, so that’s why we’re full,” said Pratt.

South Dakota’s Union County Jail is currently not at capacity, but they are short female beds and are considering refurbishing their old jail to hold more female inmates. Sheriff Dan Limoges said South Dakota is facing a similar problem to Iowa.

“Unfortunately, our jails have become the mental health facilities as well we have a lot of mental health problem individuals here that should not be here, but a lot of the times there is not enough bed space in the state,” said Limoges.

“I think people should be more aware of what is going on in jails,” said Newhouse.

The measure to build a new law enforcement center, including a larger jail in Monona County, is set to go to the voters on March 3.

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