Inmate Population Beginning to Rise Again

Jail inmate populations haven’t been excluded from the list of things that have been affected by COVID-19. In Door County, as the chart and graph show, inmate populations were cut almost in half by COVID-related revisions within criminal justice system policies, processing, and handling, including for probation and parole. Door County also furloughed its Huber Release inmates, who could return home after work rather than to the jail during the months of April, May and June.

“People coming in and out of the building daily created an opportunity to transmit [COVID],” Sheriff Tammy Sternard said. 

As of two weeks ago, no one within the jail had tested positive for COVID – “knock on wood,” Sternard said.

Changed practices not only here but elsewhere have meant that overcrowding has no longer been an issue at other jails. Inmate transport to Door County stopped. 

“Definitely unprecedented” is how Sternard described the situation. “The need for the bed rental was just not there.”

The jail began bringing Huber inmates back in July, and the other numbers have also begun to climb, though “normal” is still a long way off.

“Right now our numbers are still low, and we make substantial revenue from outside agencies,” Sternard said. 

Sternard expected $21,000 in revenue for 2020 from the 143-bed jail, which has an operational capacity of 109 inmates. A revised estimate cuts that number in half to $10,500, according to the budget update Sternard presented to her oversight committee last month.

From a budgetary perspective and statistical standpoint, this year almost needs to be wiped from the record books, Sternard said.

“It will skew the data,” she said. “It’s just not accurate for what’s going on” compared to a normal year.

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