Move to new jail expected this month

Published 1:10 pm Friday, December 3, 2010

Prisoners should be locked in Mower County’s new jail before the new year.

According to Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi, the male inmates will be moved to the new facility later this month, though she wouldn’t pinpoint the exact date or methods of the move.

“It’s been a challenge,” Amazi said of the process, though she added challenges were expected.

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The county’s courts and offices for court administration, the county attorney and Correctional Services all made the move in September.

Currently, Amazi is working to finish training her staff, and jailers are still working at neighboring jails to learn the new system.

The move was first scheduled for October or November, and one factor causing the brief delay has been ensuring the staff is properly trained to operate the new facility. Mower County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said the county board also had a hand in the delay because commissioners didn’t want to hire new jailers before the building was ready for training.

Along with the jail’s new style, a number of new operating policies have been implemented.

“I have a stack of about 50 policies that I’ll be signing on my desk right now,” Amazi said.

Despite the policies, Amazi said her staff is prepared to make the move.

“There’s always apprehension but excitement as well,” Amazi said.

While Amazi said she is excited to have the move behind her, she said it often takes time become fully acclimated with a new facility and system.

About 35 male inmates will make the move from the current jail to the new facility. Another 35 inmates currently boarded at other facilities will be transported to the jail in the coming weeks.

The female pods in the jail will not open until the new year due a labor issue being debated with the union.

Amazi could not disclose the detail of the dispute.

Amazi said her recent campaign against Sgt. Jeff Ellis, and her eventual re-election didn’t slow the move. However, she said she now has fewer things on her plate.

“My mind is more focused,” she said.