Dane County Jail funding won’t be on April ballot

With the Dane County Board split on the amount of funding needed for the county jail consolidation project, voters will not be asked to approve the final spending number on the April ballot, according to a report from The Capital Times.

While the county board has already approved $166 million in borrowing for the six-story jail construction, the project remains in limbo.

In its latest negotiations, the county board had considered adding an additional $13.5 million in funding on a three-quarters vote of the board or putting that amount of funding to referendum on the April 4 ballot, but the board ultimately voted 18–17 to return the majority-vote proposal to committee with a recommendation to indefinitely postpone, meaning it won’t be taken up again. Nevertheless, the overall project will continue as directed by a compromise the board reached last March.

The jail project has proved controversial as some criminal justice reformers have called for keeping people — especially a disproportionate number of people of color — out of jail, all while the county sheriff has begged for the jail updates to help solve what he says are inhumane conditions for current inmates.

With a cost estimate set to be complete in the coming weeks, the county board will again consider the next steps for the jail in March.