Johnson County Jail to see renovations, which may require jail evacuation

BY DI STAFF | SEPTEMBER 19, 2014 5:00 AM

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On Thursday, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors heard a bid proposal for technical upgrades for the Johnson County Jail.

The project has been estimated at $1 million and will upgrade the jail’s security systems.

“It looks to upgrade all the systems from the old electric relays and push buttons to more modern touchscreen system that will also have new cameras and new sound alarms,” county facilities manager Eldon Slaughter said.

The jail’s systems are original and have not been upgraded since being installed in 1981.

“Some of the contractors working in the systems here actually have to go onto eBay and look for parts because they are not made anymore,” Slaughter said.

This is only the first stage in a long-term series of improvements the supervisors have planned for the jail, including repairs on the plumbing, piping and floors, installation of a new generator and roof, as well as replacement of the elevator.

In total, the plans will cost between $3 million and $4 million.

Although the supervisors would like to see a gradual implementation, while the electronic repairs are going on, they have to face a full evacuation of the jail.

They supervisors are working with Muscatine County Jail, which would be able to accommodate the Johnson County inmates if need be.

Despite the complications that may arise, Supervisor Janelle Rettig said the county must renovate the jail.

“It’s a 34-year-old system,” she said. “We haven’t quite been duct taping it, but it’s been close.”

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