Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission


FAQs - Replacement Facility
Clinton County Jail/Sheriff's Offices/911 Emergency Communications Center


1. Why is a replacement Jail needed?

Back in 2008, a study of the Clinton County Law Center by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) stated "The current facility is outdated, antiquated and obsolete.  It was a poor design in 1969 and remains so today."

This NIC study goes on to affirm that "The problem with the Clinton County Jail is not overpopulation.  It is the jail itself.  This jail would be insufficient if it were empty.  Immediate planning needs to begin for its replacement."
In response, CCJCC was established in 2009 by Clinton County to undertake this issue and improve the justice system. 

In order to accomplish this, CCJCC created committees - Alternative Sanctions, Court Issues and Mental Health/Substance Abuse -   and have improved efficiencies in the justice system and saved taxpayers  money.  Even with all of these efficiencies, due to the jail's design and limitations for proper classifications, a replacement jail is still needed.

2.   Is it just a jail?

No.  The proposed replacement facility will house the Clinton County Jail, Sheriff's  Administrative Offices and the 911 Emergency Communications Center. 

3. What are Total project costs?

Total project costs (based on a May 2016 referendum) equal approximately $21,204,000.

4.  What are costs for Property owner?

Projected replacement facility costs for residents = Average $21.33 per $100,000 property value, for the life of the 20-yr. bonds OR seventy-five cents per acre of agricultural land.

5.  Have County Officials done their homework?  

Yes.  See answer to question number one.

6.   Who is responsible for the Jail?

A basic responsibility of government is the judicial system.  Our mandate is to provide safety and security for inmates, staff and the public.  Our society requires a satisfactory facility to hold individuals awaiting trial and those sentenced to be incarcerated.  It is our moral and constitutional duty to provide a safe and secure environment for staff and inmates while ensuring all medical, nutritional, substance abuse and mental health treatment needs are met.

It is the duty of the Sheriff and the Jail Administrator's job to adhere to Iowa Jail Standards and ensure the safety and security of Staff, Inmates and the community.

7.   Why now?

Cost savings or cost reduction for taxpayers will be realized with a replacement facility in terms of reduced maintenance costs, less money spent for out-of-county inmate housing and avoiding increased costs due to Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)  that would be incurred with the current facility.  

8.  When will the project begin?

This project will be decided  by the citizens of Clinton County who are registered voters.  The referendum will take place in the Spring of 2016, as a Clinton County-wide special election.  From the time successful passage of the vote occurs, until the building is occupied, it will be two or more years.

9.  What will happen if we do nothing?

An option we do not have is inaction.  Doing nothing will significantly increase future costs. 
A sound plan is to construct a replacement Justice Center - Taking action in order to avoid a crisis response in the event of a closed facility or lawsuit is the next plan.  
The prudent path is to invest time now in order to be proactive and not reactive.

10.   Cost of delay? 

Construction Inflation Rates are 4 - 4.5%. 
Delaying this project would mean an increase of approximately $850,000 for the first year.

The second year of project delay would increase costs to $22,054,000. 
Year three and adding 4% to that number, would equal $22,936,160.

An additional year's increase due to 4% interest, the total cost would then be $23,853,606.
And on and on…

11.  Can we remodel the current jail?

No.   A 2014 study by ShiveHattery Architecture & Engineering found that renovating the current Clinton County Law Center is not feasible and is not a cost-effective alternative.  (Please view the ShiveHattery assessment at  Click on "Departments," "CCJCC" and ""Clinton County Justice Needs Assessment."

12.   What about the Thomson Prison?  Why not house Inmates in Thomson?

This project is for Clinton County, Iowa:  It will contain the Clinton County Jail, Sheriff's Office and 911 Emergency Communications Center.
The Thomson Prison is in Thomson, Illinois.  It is a Federal Prison, holding medium and maximum security inmates, convicted and sentenced to  incarceration in a federal penitentiary. 

13.  Can we tour the Jail?

Yes; Individuals and groups can make an appointment to tour the Clinton County Jail.
There is also a project video which highlights the current facility, its critical issues and information about the proposed replacement project.

14.  Where will the replacement facility be built?

The facility will be built on the current Courthouse Campus.

15.  How was it determined what size the Jail needs to be?

Since the 2008 NIC study and the 2009 creation/implementation of CCJCC, the proposed bed size of the jail was reduced.  Population projections and crime trends were included to arrive at the proposed 96-bed Jail.   

16.   Why not wait to build and would it save money?

Cost implications of doing nothing: If the County Jail would be closed, the Clinton County Sheriff's Office and Clinton Police Department would both incur much greater costs with transporting inmates out-of-county, the related staffing increases necessary and increased transportation costs.

17.  Who is held in the Jail?

The majority of Inmates held in the Clinton County Jail are accused of a crime who are awaiting trial and those persons convicted of a crime sentenced to less than one year.

18.  Who oversees Sheriff and Jail Administrator in regard to the Jail?

The Iowa Department of Corrections inspects the Clinton County Jail annually.  Sheriff Lincoln & Lt. Eberhart must adhere to state of Iowa Jail Standards.  There are also inspections by the Iowa Fire Marshal and the Grand Jury.
The last ten Inspection Reports by Delbert Longley, Chief Jail Inspector for Iowa Department of Corrections, are included on the county web site. 

19.  Who spends the most time in the Clinton County Jail?

The group of people who spend the most time in our county jail are not inmates who have committed crimes but are Correctional Officers who manage the inmate population every day: twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days each year...
Their safety, security and working conditions are paramount.

20.  How will replacement jail be different?

The proposed jail pod design would replace the present outmoded linear layout.  A podular ("pod") design contains sections of cells arranged around a central control station, from which a Corrections Officer can monitor all housing units.   A linear designed jail contains cellblocks with bars along a hall design.

The facility is not just too small; its layout is outmoded. As stated in Allen Beck's study, published in Justice Concepts, Inc., "Jail design should be based on direct or indirect supervision (which pods allow for) of inmates. Linear design (which are also known as "intermittent surveillance design") should be absolutely avoided."   The American Correctional Association (ACA), which is the largest organization of correctional professionals in the United States, is very specific in this regard: "Continuous observation of inmate living areas is a fundamental requirement for maintaining safe, secure custody and control." 

A pod design will also allow for adequate classifications which are required by State of Iowa Jail Standards.  Inmates need to be separated: felons from misdemeanors; males from females (by sight & sound); juveniles from adults; sentenced inmates versus those who are accused of a crime and awaiting trial and further separations due to behavior, mental health needs, etc.

It is time to utilize modern correctional design, which is safer for officers and inmates under our control.  The Clinton County Jail is the 30th oldest out of all 98 state jails and is the oldest jail, in Iowa, of its size.

21.   Why is this called a Program Jail?

Since significant numbers of incarcerated individuals have substance abuse and/or mental health disorders, the replacement jail facility will be programmatic - including classroom space for Mental Health/Substance Abuse treatment, classes and support programs - to promote productive citizens upon reentry to the community and reduce recidivism.

The replacement facility will  include classrooms for Inmate Programs. These Programs for Inmates will include Evidence- based curriculum with measurable outcomes.

22.  Have there been safety/security issues within the jail?

The linear design of the current facility has contributed to two completed suicides and  assault of a Correctional Officer.
The present linear design of the Law Center has also contributed to inmate escapes. 
The proposed replacement jail will be pod design,  allowing for  less inmate movement and for continuous observation of inmates.
Liability increases and insurance costs could be negatively impacted, resulting in increased costs to citizens. 

23.  What is PREA and what impact is there on the Clinton County Jail?

Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), is  a federal mandate. 
Audits will be conducted in the near future of the Clinton County Jail.   

PREA audits could further reduce the functional number of beds available because of classifications and separation of inmates due to the current facility's linear design.

This would result in significant decreases in the capability to house inmates in Clinton County, resulting in increased costs and staffing to transport inmates out of county.

24.  Will this facility house Clinton Police Department?

This project will include the Clinton County Jail, Sheriff's Office and 911 Emergency Communications Center.

25.   If the Law Center had been maintained better, would a replacement facility still be needed?

Maintenance Issues include:

  • Electrical Panel maxed out and no room for expansion.
  • Plumbing runs throughout some unheated areas.  Example: sewer line in the cement overhangs
  • Roof drains run through the concrete floor and are leaking.  There is no way to access them without cutting concrete floor.
  • Stone stucco on the outside of the building is cracked and leaking by the window.  Re-stucco of the building would be needed.
  • Heating and cooling system are outdated and won’t keep up.
  • ADA accessibility: Hallway and doorways are too small and don’t meet standards.
  • Plumbing valves don’t work and shut off the water in the building.  Major repairs require us to shut down the whole building.
  • Copper piping is starting to leak that runs through the cement between floors
  • Cell block above offices.  Must cover desks and office equipment with blue tarps at night to avoid damage.
  • Can’t replace kitchen and laundry equipment because doorways and hallways are too small for equipment to go through.
  • No parts available for plumbing fixtures in the cell block areas.

26.  Why connect to the Courthouse?

The NIC Assessment of Clinton County was critical of the fact that Inmates and general public are not separate in the parking lot, Courthouse and elevator.

For the safety of the Inmates and Officers, security would be increased by having a separate/secure method of transfer from the Clinton County Jail to the second floor of the Courthouse.

27.  Why not match stone on the Courthouse?

The connecting walkway will be comprised of glass, which serves as "transitional element" between the historic Courthouse and replacement Jail/CCSO/911 Communications Center.  This will allow for the Courthouse to remain the focal point and recognize its historical significance and architectural impact.

There had been a security checkpoint added to the west side of the Courthouse during the 2002-2003 renovation.  This was made of stone/brick material.

28.  How does this replacement facility compare in square footage to the Courthouse?

The proposed facility is approximately 59,000 square feet.

The Courthouse equals 37,000 sq. ft. (excluding 4th floor).
Including fourth floor, the Courthouse is 50,000 square feet.

29.  What function(s) does the 911 Emergency Communications Center perform?

The 911 Emergency Communications Center answers all Clinton County and all Cities' fire, law enforcement and EMS calls and dispatches services for all emergency calls.

30. What are some of the issues/needs of the 911 Emergency Communications Center?

  • The 911 Communications Center currently occupies just over 600 square feet.  The ShiveHattery Assessment suggested that it have 3,393 square feet.
  • There is no more room to add any additional equipment that may be required by state or federal mandates. 
  • There is no more room for any additional storage.  Most of the storage is currently in a hallway which also houses much of infrastructure
  • Staffing study recommended that 4 people are on duty during peak times.  If authorized to hire additional staff, there is no room to have additional employees on duty due to the fact that there are only 3 dispatch consoles and there is no place to put in additional dispatch consoles.
  • If Communications Employees need to use the restroom or the break room, they have potential to cross paths with inmates that are being brought into the jail, which creates a safety concern for Communications employees.
  • With the plumbing issues in the building, it is a concern that a leak above any of our electronic equipment could ruin critical equipment such as the radio and phone system which would not only be costly to repair or replace but could also create a public safety issue.

31. How does the current number of suspended sentences and deferred judgments given to defendants factor into the decision to replace the current jail?

The Clinton County Jail houses inmates in a variety of situations. Serving a sentence of incarceration is just one of the reasons an individual might be in the Clinton County Jail.
Many individuals are booked into jail following their arrest and are waiting to have their initial appearance before a Judge. Some of these individuals remain in custody while awaiting trial. Others are arrested on out of county or out of state warrants and are awaiting transfer to the prosecuting jurisdiction. Suspended sentences and deferred judgments do not impact the number of these inmates that are in the Clinton County Jail.
Additionally, under Iowa law, anyone sentenced to more than one year of incarceration must serve their sentence in a state prison and not a county jail. Because all felonies have indeterminate sentences in excess of one year, the Clinton County Jail never houses inmates serving felony sentences. As a result, suspended sentences or deferred judgments on felony cases never impact the number of inmates at the Clinton County Jail.

32.  Where can more information be found for this project?

View - Click on "Departments" and "Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission" for project information. View the project video and read reports, studies and more. There is a project timeline, preliminary drawings, photos and other data.
Citizens may also determine the first year's property tax impact for their property value. To calculate, click on "CCJCC Justice Facility Replacement Project" and "$$ Figure the first year impact on your property taxes."