For decades America has had a problem with mass incarceration.
The Winona County jail is dealing with multiple violations which is why the community is pushing to build a new one.
Chris Meyer the District One Commissioner for Winona County is in favor of building a new jail.
Meyer said, “the jail was condemned, and we’re replacing it.
She also said the current jail, “it is simply not safe for anyone, not for the community, not the individuals arrested and certainly not our jail staff”.
Meyer also said the jail has failed state inspections due to narrow doorways, no sprinkler systems, only one intake stall, pod structure and other safety and health concerns.
When comparing Winona County’s current jail and the plan for the new jail, especially in concerns with COVID-19, Meyer said, “It will have a negative airflow system, and it will also have the ability to separate folks in a way that is simply not possible now.”
A local coalition Community not Cages opposes the new jail.
Tova Strange, a member of Community not Cages, and Winona State University student, said the group is composed of current and past Winona residents who disagree with the jail expansion.
Strange, is a lifelong Winona resident which is why this issue is important to her.
She joined the group because she is anti-incarceration and supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
When she heard about the new jail in Winona, she disagreed with it.
Strange said, “the idea of expanding a jail to 80-90 beds, and possibly adding a juvenile detention center really frightened me and frustrated me”.
Kara Eggers, a fellow WSU student and member of Community not Cages, said Winona County should redistribute funds for a new jail or juvenile facility to other causes.
“I think, putting finances and resources into preventative methods, helping people actually get into the doctor in a timely manner,” Eggers said.
Strange, said she is continuously seeing the same individuals in and out of jail for drug addiction.
“The solution to addiction is providing rehab facilities locally that are accessible and cheap enough for people to go and good enough that it works,” Strange said.
Chris Meyer said that delaying the new jail is not possible but if they had come to the community board sooner, Community not Cages could’ve been involved in the discussion about the new jail.
Meyer said she disagrees with Community not Cages on the new jail she said the “truth of the matter is I actually share many of their concerns”.