Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office


April 25, 2019
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair 608.333.2285
County Board

The Dane County Board of Supervisors will hear a presentation from engineering and architecture firm Mead and Hunt regarding the costs and benefits of alternative locations and designs for a consolidated jail, a project initially approved as part of the County’s 2018 capital budget.  The presentation will be at a special meeting of the full Board at 6:00 p.m. next Thursday, May 2nd, prior to the regularly scheduled County Board meeting at 7 p.m.



Dane County has spent the last several years analyzing approaches to close the outdated and unsafe jail in the City County Building, consolidate the jail into one building with fewer total beds and space for medical and programming needs, while also investing in front-end justice programs to divert individuals from incarceration. 



“We have a problem to solve,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan.  “Our goal is to build a safer, smaller, and fairer jail – one consistent with jail reduction strategies, best practices for behavioral health, and a commitment to fairness. Before committing to a structure in downtown Madison, the County asked Mead and Hunt to consider other options.”



The Board had approved the $76 million jail consolidation project in the fall of 2017 with a plan to build four floors on top of the existing Public Safety Building.  It was believed that the Public Safety Building was designed to withstand the weight of additional floors as needed.  However, Mead and Hunt determined that the structure could not support the extra floors as originally envisioned. 



Mead and Hunt subsequently completed additional architectural and engineering design work and proposed construction of the consolidated jail facility as a tower adjacent to the Public Safety Building.  The estimated cost of this structure was $148 million. 



Given the increase in estimated cost, last month the Board directed Mead and Hunt to study alternative design options including 1) renovation of the City-County Building and Public Safety Building facilities and building of a new Huber Center on a greenfield (undeveloped land) site; 2) renovation of the Public Safety Building, and building of both maximum secure space and a Huber Center on a greenfield site, and 3) building of one consolidated jail facility on a greenfield site.  Each of these options were compared to the option of building a tower adjacent to the current Public Safety Building.  



“Each option includes additional costs” said Corrigan. “Due to the unacceptable condition of the jail in the City County Building, we must act to replace this unsafe, inhumane facility.  While we continue to dedicate ourselves to diversion and alternatives, these programs will not eliminate the need for a jail.”



The 6:00 p.m. meeting is a Committee of the Whole County Board, and is open to the public.  It will be recorded and available to live stream or view at a later time:



“I encourage members of the public to attend the meeting or listen and view the presentation as they are able,” Corrigan remarked.  “This is an opportunity to be informed on the process and the options available as the County moves forward.” 



While public comment is not part of a Committee of the Whole, there will be several opportunities to address the Board and key committees in the coming weeks.  The Public Protection and Judiciary Committee and the Public Works and Transportation Committee will consider this issue on May 7th and the public are welcome to testify at that meeting, in addition to committee meetings and the County Board meetings when this issue is on the agenda.