Janesville47.6°

Sheriff’s office to get two new employees

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ANN MARIE AMES
May 23, 2008
— As the number of Rock County inmates wearing electronic monitoring bracelets nears 100, the sheriff’s office will hire two new staff members to manage those inmates and others in alternative incarceration programs.

The Rock County Board on Thursday night unanimously approved Sheriff Bob Spoden’s request for a new corrections officer and a new deputy sheriff.


When Spoden wrote the 2008 budget, he estimated the bracelet program would monitor 70 to 75 inmates daily, he said. The actual average has been more like 85 to 95, Spoden said.


The positions will allow the sheriff’s office to monitor more inmates on its electronic monitoring program and the Workenders program, which is slated to start Saturday, June 7, Spoden said.


In the Workenders program, qualified inmates volunteer consecutive weekends to work for local nonprofits. If an inmate is sentenced to serve 10 days, he or she could qualify to stay at home or go to work during the week and serve time over five weekends.


“At the end of the day, we’ll still lock up people we need to lock up because they’re dangerous,” Spoden said. “But the people that aren’t dangerous but are just irresponsible, we’re able to continue to manage them as well, but not at the cost of having to house them out of county.”


To pay for the two salaries, Spoden said his office in June will bring back 20 Rock County inmates being housed in the Dodge County Jail. Those inmates are the last of those who have been jailed in other counties to ease crowding in the Rock County Jail.


The 2008 Rock County budget allocated $446,000 to house inmates in other counties.


Many of the 20 inmates coming back to the Rock County Jail will serve time on the electronic monitoring bracelet or the Workenders program as long as they qualify, Spoden said.


The inmates will be housed in the jail while they are processed, he said.


While Spoden has been working to increase the number of inmates on alternative incarceration programs, he’s also been working with architects to design an expansion at the jail. He has not said how much the expansion will cost, only that it will be less than the $56 million plan the county board scrapped in 2006.


Spoden is in the process of selecting an owner’s representative to work as a liaison between the county and contractors for the jail project. Once that company is hired, Spoden will bring the representative up to speed on the jail expansion and how the project has moved through Rock County government, Spoden said.


Spoden said he might be ready in August to come before the county board with initial cost estimates for the jail expansion.


On Wednesday, 480 inmates were living in the Rock County Jail, which has a rated capacity of 477. Another 84 were out on electronic monitoring bracelets, and 50 were participating in Community RECAP, according to sheriff’s office data.



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