The topic of the jail population is not new topic to Eau Claire County. A web search can locate articles about this issue from the 1950's to present day. Now, as the current Jail Administrator, I oversee every aspect of the jail and its operations.
Below is the last decade of history:
2012 - Our current secure jail opened and has 258 beds, which was only an increase of 86 beds from the old jail.
2017 - We had to house people in other county jails (Chippewa and Dunn) because we ran out of room in our jail.
2019 - Our jail population had lowered enough that no one was housed out of county.
2020 - COVID arrived and changed the way criminal justice system operated. The jail's population drop was NOT evidence based.
2021 - COVID still here, variants kept coming! Everyone still figuring out what is the new normal. How can the jail change, adapt, and meet the challenges of following COVID guidelines and increased number of bookings? ARPA funds are announced by the Federal Government.
"We are trying to survive, and our facility is seeing more COVID-positive people come. The jail is the community and the community is the jail. When the (COVID-19 case) numbers rise in the community, the numbers rise in the jail.” - Dave Riewestahl, Leader Telegram Article
“We as a jail can’t keep up with the inflow of people coming in and the 14-day quarantine period.” - Dave Riewestahl, Leader Telegram Article
2022 - COVID still here and keeps showing up in the community. The jail is seeing an increase in the number of bookings and the number of people staying in custody.