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New Eau Claire Co. jail near completion

EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - After a decade of controversy and now construction, the new Eau Claire County jail is just about ready for inmates.

From accused murderers to drunk drivers, up to 260 inmates are set to move to their new home next month in the new jail.

"I had jet black hair at the start of this and I've got a lot of grey hairs over the process," Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer said.

"(Increased space in) The booking area, the laundry room and the kitchen ... those are going to be some significant areas that the public is going to be impressed (with)."

Aside from more space and convenience for officers, Cramer said the $34.5 million project is designed to increase security for staff and inmates, by separating minimum, medium and maximum security-level offenders.

"The (central) pod system gives us a really good line of sight for each of the inmates," Cramer said.

"Get away from taking a look at the new paint, the new doors, and the new facility. This is a very stark, ... very basic jail. It solves a lot of problems with our staff and the classifications," he said.

There are new TVs for inmates to watch but Cramer said there's a safety reason for that. He said if inmates are content watching TV they're less likely to create problems.

"We can put in programming that we want them to see." "If they cooperate with us, they can watch TV. If they're uncooperative the TV goes off ... I hate to say it's like 'Child rearing 101,' but it really is."

With the possibility of building two more floors on top of the new jail, Cramer said it could have room to grow for 50 to 100 years.

"I'm just very proud of the people that got behind this ... Everybody has a lot to be proud of."

With some electrical installations and inspections left, Cramer said he hopes the jail can open by the last week of Aug.

Tours are scheduled to be open to the public Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


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