County Board rejects all jail project options

The Dane County Board has rejected three options for a new jail and the project in any form will be unable to move forward, according to a report from the Wisconsin State Journal. Options included: a smaller, five-story jail; borrowing an extra $10 million for a six-story, roughly $166 million jail approved in March that is now over budget; and a plan to put a ballot referendum to voters in November asking if they supported the additional $10 million. Originally designed to consolidate the county’s jail facilities and close the jail at the City-County Building, rising construction costs have caused the project to now be tens of millions of dollars over the original budget. The five-story plan, put forward by the Black caucus on the board, included cutting some medical beds, a weekend court pilot program, releasing people in jail on low cash bail, and expanding alternatives to youth incarceration. The core message of the proposal was to reduce the extreme racial disparities in the jail population. Last week, 53% of the jail’s population was Black, while the Black population of Dane County is only about 6%.