By Tim Kowols and Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski
Despite having the state’s oldest and smallest jail, Kewaunee County does not necessarily want to get bigger. County officials are beginning the planning phase with a Jail Needs Assessment, which involves looking at current trends within their population and the dynamics that brought them there. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says he sees the potential new facility as more than just a place to hold criminals in jail, but to rehabilitate inside a community resource.
Joski says the new jail could be relocated near its evidence building where they have extra acreage, but ultimately wants community members to voice their opinions about the new facility before they break ground in the coming years. You can learn more about potential new jail facility in this week’s Sheriff’s Corner with Matt Joski.
I would like to start off by thanking everyone who either donated a toy or hosted a box at their place of business as well as those who assisted last week at the Distribution. This year’s Kewaunee County Toys for Tots Campaign assisted 102 families with 245 children. This is only possible through the generosity of our community. Also, our Salvation Army Kettle Campaign is going great with approximately $14,000.00 raised so far. We still have a few more days so please give a donation or even consider ringing bells. The last day for the Kettle Campaign will be Christmas Eve!
What I really wanted to write about was a meeting I just came from which involved planning for a new jail facility here in Kewaunee County. As I have stated and written in the past, I want to make sure that as much information is shared on the progress at each stage. Last fall we conducted a Justice and Jail Analysis which provided each component of our local justice system an opportunity to discuss their unique role and how their work affects our jail and its inmate population. Then this past spring we participated in a Planning of New Institutions (PONI) provided by the National institute of Corrections for local jails. This workshop was also very helpful in understanding the process by which a community begins the discussion and all of the components that go into the planning of a new jail.
Today’s meeting was to discuss a Jail Needs Assessment. This is the next step in the planning phase. This is also the first point at which we bring on a professional consultant to look at our current facility and its operations but more importantly to look at trends in our population and the dynamics of those who are being held at our jail at any given time. The goal of this assessment is to provide our county with a clear picture of what a facility may look like when taking into consideration the many variables such as daily population, classification, programming, as current legislation and its impact on jail operations.
In discussing a potential new jail facility, I feel we must first refer to it for what it will be and that is a community resource facility. Will we be holding those who have been sentenced to jail for a given crime? Absolutely, but we must also consider it a place where members of our community can receive effective services in areas such as drug or alcohol addiction, mental health treatment, as well as educational resources. This may not seem like a traditional purpose of a jail, but if our goal is true rehabilitation we must get beyond the incarceration component of the jail. Our ultimate goal is to reduce the chance that an individual will return. The best way to do this is to eliminate the underlying causes for their behavior. For some it is addiction for some it may be mental health. For others if may be that they lack the skills to succeed in life.
Regardless of their actions, we have two methods by which we reduce jail population; Incarceration which we hope in and of itself is enough of a deterrent, and then rehabilitation which if done correctly can have long lasting and meaningful impact in both reducing jail population but more importantly building stronger communities.
I am anticipating that this step of the process will take up a good portion 2018 and I look forward to sharing any and all data which is provided in this report. If anyone has any questions of concerns about our efforts in regards to a new jail facility, please do not hesitate to call me at any time.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas!