Eau Claire (WQOW)- The inmate population continues to grow in Eau Claire County, and officials are considering an expansion.
Sheriff Ron Cramer said because of the increase of population, meth and mental health issues they’re seeing, more people fill up their cells.
Cramer said their current ‘secure’ population is 206 beds, and said they started shipping inmates once they reached 226 inmates. That is when they are at about 80 percent full. A secure population is how many people they feel they can safely house, although their are more beds available.
He said inmates are going to the Huber Center, and even Chippewa and Dunn County, which costs the county around $200,000 a year.
He said the fourth floor was built just in case they needed it in the future, and now they want it renovated.
“If we were given the blessing today from the county board to go ahead with construction, it would take 18 to 24 months before we could open the door,” Cramer said. “With that period of time our jail population, secure population is going to continue to grow again at anywhere from one-and-a-half to four-and-a-half percent.”
Cramer said if there is an expansion, they’ll be able to house an additional 96 inmates, but said they would need to hire 11 to twelve correction officers.
He said the renovation would cost $3.5 to 5 million.
He said right now, no decision will be made on an expansion just yet. They’re still looking at their jail population study before deciding what to do.