County board discusses Brown County Jail expansion proposal

A community justice group wants the county to consider alternatives to reduce the jail population

jail

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) Overcrowding in the Brown County jail was the main topic of discussion at the Brown County Board meeting Wednesday night.

The Brown County Sheriff John Gossage gave a presentation to the board members about the issues at hand and what their options are when it comes to the growing inmate population.

The maximum capacity for the county jail is about 715 inmates. The sheriff said they are currently about 92 percent full, but that isn’t necessarily the norm.

At times this year, Brown County has paid to send inmates to other counties because they didn’t have the space to house all the inmates. Over the last two months, that’s cost the county $40,000.

The other option is to expand the jail, which would add two dorm-style buildings and about 124 beds. It comes with about a $14 million price tag and would take two years to complete.

A co-founder of JOSHUA, which stands for the Justice Organization Sharing Hope and United for Action, wants the county board to consider other options to reduce the jail population, like treatment alternatives.

“Taking someone out of prison opens a bed, and that is one bed that doesn’t have to be expanded on,” said Jim Soletski.

The Brown County Sheriff said they are about to implement a new alternative treatment called a day center, where offenders search for work instead of going to jail, but the sheriff worries that isn’t going to be enough in the long-term.

“We know how to do it, we have done it before, we can do it again, but we need to make the determination are we going to ship or are we going to build,” said Gossage.

Gossage said the jail continues to look for ways to reduce overcrowding.

The board said it needs more information and time before it can vote on the proposal.

We welcome comments and civil discussions.

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