County Board to address jail crowding - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

County Board to address jail crowding

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- Jail over crowding will be the topic of discussion at Monday night's La Crosse County Planning Resources and Development committee.

Members of Justice Sanctions and the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department will present to the committee ways they are attempting to reduce the inmate population. Those efforts include working with judges and treatment courts.

The sheriff says right now there are about 189 in the jail, down from 223 a couple of months ago. He says capacity is about 182. That figure doesn't mean every bed is full, but what is safest for the jailers and inmates.

The sheriff says there are a number of factors contributing to the over-crowding in the jail.

"The importance of making sure that those persons in our jail really need to be in our jail," Sheriff Steve Helgeson said. "We do have significant problems with drugs, we have a heroin epidemic in our area. How much all those things contribute, it's tough to really put a finger on, but I think all those things have a role to play in the increased population."

Another possible solution to the over-crowding: hiring six new staffers to run a currently unused portion in the jail at a cost of approximately $400,000 annually. 

Sheriff Helgeson says they'd prefer to find ways to reduce the number of inmates.

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