During their meeting on November 21, the Jefferson County Commissioners signed a memorandum of understanding with Dawson County to house inmates in the Dawson County Jail.
Jefferson County Sheriff Nels Sorensen explained that the Jefferson County Jail regularly exceeds its maximum capacity of 14 prisoners, which is why the county is seeking options to house inmates.
“We’re always looking for places to house inmates,” said Sorensen. “Dawson County has a unique operation. They run a van from Lexington to Lincoln, Tecumseh. Basically they will do all our transports for us and charge us $45 a day. Basically, if we put people out there, they will be sentenced people that way we don’t have to move them back and forth.”
Sorensen stated that with the status of the Nebraska Department of Corrections, there is a strain on counties for housing inmates.
“The issue we have now is the Department of Corrections has basically shut us off,” Sorensen said. “We used to be able to hold any safe-keepers up there in Lincoln. So, if we had a kid who came in with a traffic violation and had 30 days and he wasn’t playing well with our system, we could take him up there. Now they will only take felons. So, they’re solving their problems, but they’re throwing back on us.”
The Jefferson County Jail will only utilize Dawson County’s services when there is a need to house inmates. Sorensen explained that Jefferson County currently has other agreements in place with Richardson County, Saline County and others, but at variable rates.
“Dawson County will take care of them, feed them and clothe them and keep them warm or cool,” said Sorensen. “I think they’ve either got 120 or 140 bed jail. We’re averaging about 18 people per day in jail this year. There’s been some days when we’ve been at 25 or 26. A lot of the people we have in jail are in for probation violations and custodial sanctions. I just don’t know what else to do.”
Jefferson County Commissioner Mark Schoenrock emphasized his support of the agreement, noting the savings to the Jefferson County.