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Aging Facilities

Second-Hand Cells

The jail was built in 1936 using second-hand cells transported from Missouri. The Iowa jail inspector has repeatedly pointed out this facility is at the end of its useful life. The County kept the jail functional, but this 87-year-old facility can no longer properly detain inmates and provide a safe work environment for staff. 


Outdated Jail Design

Another significant issue with the current jail is its linear jail design that stretches cells along long hallways and around acute angles, creating blind spots and the need for closed circuit television or other means to maintain 24/7 visual surveillance. Podular jail design, which is proposed for new facility, features a master control area in the center with cells and program areas surrounding the perimeter in a circular or pie-shaped layout. Staff doesn’t need to run down long corridors or steps to see what’s going on because there are clear sight lines for observation of inmates and activities at all times. Cameras simply supplement direct supervision but aren’t the sole source of monitoring. Learn more about podular vs. linear design.

Other jail design issues include:

  • The current jail design has a limited number of cell units and does not provide for proper inmate classification - it actually reduces the usable design capacity.

  • The current inmate has many more problematic issues than in the past which creates a need for special needs beds and more cell beds vs. dorm beds. There are no true special needs beds to allow for ADA classification or medical isolation.

  • Inmate booking flow is not efficient and is a potential security/safety risk. Inmates are transferred from booking area, escorted down narrow steps, through the office/jail/evidence storage to get to the receiving toilet and shower...and then back up to booking area prior to entering jail cell.

  • Cell hallways of existing jail are narrow with ductwork, plumbing, and electrical utilities at head height. Very challenging to transport difficult inmates and potential safety risk if inmates get disruptive.

  • No remote electronic cell door security.

  • Insufficient camera surveillance with no sound recording ability.

  • Welded wire mesh that was added to some key locations to limit inmate tampering with plumbing and electrical utilities has been manipulated into a very sharp weapon. This type of product is no longer used in modern jails because they no longer use bars in the cells.

  • The jail design creates a security risk to the staff and restricts quick medical and/or officer support response when needed. There are no elevators to extract inmate or staff member from upper/lower floors.

  • No on-site medical space.

  • There is not a dedicated space for mental health visits and this is something the Sheriff's Office is having to manage more frequently due to reduced state resources (many mental facilities have been closed recently). These sessions are held in the booking area with limited privacy. Additionally, this can interfere with on-going booking procedures and classification requirements.

  • There are no padded safety cells in the jail. 

  • Staff areas are insufficient with limited office space, break areas, meeting rooms, and programming space.

  • There is not a institutional kitchen so food service is provided by an outside source.

  • Limited space for laundry function so it's currently located in the basement. Using residential equipment.

  • Storage constraints throughout facility including inmate property storage/lockers, inmate clothing storage, cleaning supplies, etc. In some cell blocks, hallways serve as storage for medical and cleaning supplies which inmates could easily access when being transported.

  • Lack of secure storage for records and evidence. Basement area where records are stored occasionally floods with sewage.

  • Water drainage/backup issues on all levels of jail and Sheriff's Office basement.

  • Server room is in a small room that also serves as storage area. Room is hot without proper temperature and humidity for equipment - often not ideal conditions for equipment and/or maintenance.

  • Air handling system doesn't provide proper air exchanges. No negative pressure cells to isolate inmates to prevent the spread of an illness from cell to cell.

  • Mold, mildew, and rust is prevalent throughout the facility and poses health risk to inmates and staff.

  • There are no secure perimeters that provide easy access to electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems so staff has to lock inmates down to do general repair work.

  • There is no sally port so officers/detainees must wait outside in patrol vehicles until ready for booking. Modern detention facilities should have a dedicated secure and controlled environment used for the sole purpose of bringing inmates into the jail safely.

  • No dedicated booking area resulting in potential liability issues.

    • Many potential "weapons" in close proximity to new arrivals.​

  • Booking, fingerprint, dress-out areas to small to function properly.

  • Dress-out area is inadequate in size and design creating potential PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) violation.

Old House Serves as Sheriff's Office

Adjacent to the jail, the Sheriff’s Office is in a 1970s former residence converted into offices, interrogation, patrol, civil clerk, armory, evidence storage, training, and jail support. The County has maintained this dated facility, but its design and age-related issues are limitations.

911/Dispatch Center

Occupies space in a 50-year-old building owned by the City of Clarinda. Page County pays $13,398 annually to lease this space. If referendum passes, 911 would move to the proposed new facility – saving taxpayers $267,960 in lease payments over the next 20 years.

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