New downtown jail open for a month

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- a Sheriff and Jail Captain are praising Eau Claire's new downtown jail now that it's been open for more than a month, calling it safe and high-tech.

"Our old facility has so many flaws. It was noted by our jail inspector year after year. And the board knew that they needed to make some sort of change here,” said Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer.

"This was definitely a right decision. Not only to build the jail itself due to inefficiencies that we’ve had, but also the location for the efficiency of all county government,” said Jail Captain Joel Brittengen.
12 years and 34-million dollars later, the new jail is finally up and running. And it has all of the bells and whistles that the old location didn't have, making it better, safer and more efficient for staff, visitors and inmates.

"With the new facilities we have built in, safe sufficient movement of inmates. We can do the training right within the cell block. There are a lot of things that we improved that the jail inspector was happy to see,” said Cramer.

Some county board members still believe spending the money on the new jail was unnecessary and took money away from other departments that needed it more.

"We look like a big spender in the levy. I don't think people step back and take a look at all the resources that go into criminal justice or into human service,” said Cramer.
Sheriff says this is one of the biggest projects the county has ever taken on and even though some people have disagreed with the necessity of a new jail in the past, he believes the project is a success so far.

"This is a county of 100 thousand people, and majority of the people are glad that this project is finished, that is down-town and that it is right next to our courts. This facility is short term, long term planned, and will always be functional 60, 70, years down the road, as we move,” said Sheriff.

Jail captain Joel Brittengen says the jail is still undergoing it's transitional period but the department is very optimistic about any possible challenges that might come their way.