County officials nix raising jail renovation budget
Under the current budget proposal, prison facilities at the City-County building downtown would be closed.
Dane County is currently slated to pursue a $76 million proposal to modernize its prison system, but some officials worry that it's not enough.
An additional $23.86 million to fund the second phase of the renovation was proposed Monday by Supervisor Mike Willett, District 32. The proposal didn’t make it through the county Public Safety and Judiciary Committee, leaving the amount of planned funding for the jail unchanged.
County Executive Joe Parisi proposed earlier this month a $537 million operating budget for 2018. About 14 percent of that — $76 million — is allotted for updating the Dane County Jail.
The extra money that Willett proposed would have funded additional changes, including relocating the Sheriff’s Office and renovating some areas of the prison building.
The committee needs to “plan 20 years in the future,” as well as consider the possibility needimg for more space then, he said.
Officials at the Dane County Sheriff’s Office have said the jail is in “dangerous” conditions in the past, with some noting declining building conditions and others a lack of resources for prisoners.
Some of the biggest changes in the first phase of the most recent renovation plan would consolidate prison facilities in a county facility downtown and restructure prison policies.
It would combine three separate prison facilities in the Public Safety Building on West Doty Street. Currently, the Dane County Jail also houses prisoners at two other locations, the City-County Building downtown and the Ferris Center for Huber Inmates.
The plan would also eliminate solitary confinement, which is currently used at the jail, and reduce nearly 100 beds from the facility. County officials called restructuring the “clearest demonstration this project is being built based on need and a continuing confidence in the effectiveness of our rigorous jail diversion programs,” in a release.
Groups of protesters, sometimes dozens of them, have held rallies several times this month outside the City-County Building, where county officials also hold hearings on the budget.
County officials will vote on the 2018 budget Nov. 20th.
Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter