Polk sheriff candidates answer Bulletin questions

Published 12:33 pm Friday, October 1, 2010

The Bulletin recently asked Polk County sheriff candidates to answer five questions about local issues. Here are their answers to the first question.

1. How would you like the county to handle future jail needs? Do you think

the county needs to construct a new jail in the near future and if so, do

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you think that jail should house female as well as male inmates?

Donald Hill

The county has, for some time, struggled to meet established state jail standards and continues to do so.&bsp; The fire in the Mitchell County Jail facility in 2002 that killed 8 inmates brought about needed regulations and standards to protect inmates as well as staff within these facilities.&bsp; The current jail was constructed 35 years ago, and has served the county well, but is no doubt outdated.&bsp; The county needs to prepare and implement a plan for replacing the current jail with a facility that provides services for both men and women and incorporates modern safety features.&bsp; Housing needs for male and female inmates have increased dramatically since the construction of the current facility. Many times inmates must sleep on a mattress in the floor, which creates safety and health issues.&bsp; I feel it is time to move forward toward a safer more modern facility that could be constructed to accommodate not only the jail but other county agencies that many times need law enforcement services.

Nathan Shields

The current jail is antiquated and needs to be replaced. This will obviously take money. Polk County will need to secure federal and state grants to make a new jail affordable. I am not suggesting a tax increase.

I am suggesting that a coherent plan needs to be created for construction and funding for a jail to accommodate the entire countys jail population; in an effort to prevent any potential civil litigation involving the structural condition of the jail that may occur and transporting of female inmates.

Construction costs only rise; therefore, the sooner a new jail facility the better.

Females should be housed in the future facility, as well as temporary housing of juvenile offenders until release to parents or other appropriate agency. Presently female inmates have to be housed in other jails and their housing expenses and transportation expenses come out of the Polk County jail budget.