Lee County closer to new jail

Lee County is getting closer to the completion of its new jail.

You'll recall in August of 2007, 85 percent of Lee County residents approved a $5.4 million bond issue to build the facility. That after a jail inspector found parts of the current jail, including three trailers, not as safe and secure as they should be.

When completed the new jail will house nearly one hundred inmates.

But it wasn't always this way.

When the jail was built back in 1981 it had enough room for a little more than 20 prisoners. But Sheriff Buck Jones says over the last thirty years the number of inmates has grown fast, in many cases due to the rise of drug use.

Years ago they made room by double bunking cells, later on temporary housing was set up in order to house a 67 prisoners maximum. But it wasn't enough. These days Lee County Sheriff Buck Jones says he faces overcrowding problems regularly.

Sheriff Jones said, "Once this project is all done I'm no longer going o have to call police in Montrose, Keokuk, For Madison and say look guys we have no room Don't arrest anyone unless you have to."

Reporter asked, "So you've had to do that before?"

Sheriff Jones said, "More than once when we're at capacity I've had to tell police and the state patrol don't arrest anyone if you do't have to so they don't have to come to jail."

Now Sheriff Jones says the construction of this new jail will help alleviate that problem.

Lee County is already working to prepare for the possibility additional growth. Right now crews are working to construct a second level in the jail which could be finished to house additional prisoners. When that happens this jail will be able to house nearly 150 prisoners.

Sheriff Jones says the new facility will not only hold more people. With its added state-of-the-art security features, it will make life safer for deputies and Lee County residents.

When construction on the new jail is completed, the second phase of the project will begin. That includes renovating the current jail and sheriff's offices to add the County's first consolidated e-9-1-1 dispatch center.

You can learn more about plans to combine E-91-1 centers by clicking here: