Sheriff speaks to jail staffing issues

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

The Jones County Jail is facing a huge staffing issue. 

Sheriff Greg Graver and Deputy Sheriff Brian Eckhardt met with the Jones County Supervisors during the Sept. 3 board meeting to bring them up to speed on the situation. 

Typically the jail maintains a staff of six full-time, including the jail administrator, and two part-time. Presently, two full-time employees are out on medical leave, and Graver said one of the part-time employees is practically working full-time hours just to maintain adequate staff. 

“I know we’re short-staffed and it’s going to get worse,” said Graver. 

As of the morning of Sept. 3, there were 14 inmates inside the Jones County Jail, a mix of females and males. Graver said that means they must have a male and female jailers on staff as well. 

Graver said a jail inspection is expected at the end of the month, and will likely point to staffing issues, as noted in the past as well. 

The county hired Shive- Hattery to conduct a staff analysis of the jail, which will be presented during the supervisor meeting on Sept. 10. 

“If something doesn’t change,” warned Graver, “we could potentially house ( Jones County inmates) in other counties.” 

He said that comes at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. 

Graver, who saw a preliminary report from Shive-Hattery, said they’ll likely recommend “a significant staff increase.” 

Graver said a couple of weekends ago when things got so bad, he almost made the call for Transport to transfer inmates out-of-county. 

Even if the jail hired additional employees now, Graver said it wouldn’t change or help much with all of the training required. 

“I don’t see it getting any better,” he said. 

Eckhardt said there’s also a lull in people applying for jobs within jails, let alone the timeframe for training. 

“Getting people to actually apply is painful,” he said. “Background checks are time consuming.” 

Eckhardt said it’s not cost effective to transport and house inmates in other counties’ facilities. 

Graver said the Anamosa Police Department is down three officers. When they’re fully staffed, he expects higher inmate numbers with more officers on duty. 

“There’s not great option here,” he said. 

He said for a long-term fix, they would need to create another full-time position for the jail. 


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