Siouxland Progressive Women voice concerns over upcoming jail bond vote

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – In one week, Woodbury County voters will decide the future of a new Law Enforcement Center and Jail.

Woodbury County officials are asking voters to approve bonds of $50 million for the project.

As the voting day approaches, they continue to explain why the $50 million facility is needed in the county.

Officials are also hoping to gain support by continuing to take the project to Woodbury County citizens.

While that price tag is concerning for some, others are raising questions about what they see as a larger issue.

Members of the Woodbury County Jail Authority on Tuesday sharing a jail presentation at the Siouxland Progressive Women’s luncheon and the discussion included more than just dollars and cents.

For some, the larger issues of mental health and how it relates to those behind bars is as important as how large of a facility the county should build.

“I think it’s hard to justify more than a 300-bed new facility. I think it’s questionable about the location. I also think that there needs to be much more problematic, many more problematic elements associated with drug and alcohol recovery. There is very little right now in the jail that is associated,” said Jim Rixner, a social worker.

“What if this was a mental health facility? We would take care of a lot of the prison need,” said luncheon attendee.

Questions over a plan to house federal inmates at the new jail also brought questions as to how that might impact the community.

County finance director Dennis Butler addressed that concern.

“We’re gonna have the staff already there on hand. Why not take advantage of the staff on hand? It’s actually eight people less but what we will do is move those eight potential correction officers over to transportation. Train them. So they will transport the federal prisoners, where they have to transport them to. We will be reimbursed for that and we also get reimbursed for medical costs. Again, these federal prisoners are actually visitors. They will be here, wait for trial, and then they leave. We will never see them again,” said Dennis Butler, Woodbury County Finance Director.

Members of the Woodbury County Law Enforcement Authority continues to highlight how a new jail would be beneficial to taxpayers.

“I would like to see us move forward and improve things on mental health issues, on alcohol issues, on drug issues, that’s the ultimate answer. But the reality of it is, with the laws we have in place, we, as voters in Woodbury County, have to deal with that today,” said Ron Wieck, Woodbury County Law Enforcement Authority.

Project plans and additional financing information for the project are available on the board of supervisors’ website.

The bond referendum vote is set to take place next Tuesday, March 3.

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