Changes coming for one U.P. Jail

Changes coming for one U.P. Jail

EAGLE RIVER — The Keweenaw County Jail is 130 years old and is now likely seeing its final days as a jailhouse.

The county board of commissioners recently voted to change the operations of the facility from a jail to a 72–hour lockup. Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti called it an end of an era.

Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti said, “It’s a tough thing for me because I fought since 1993 to keep our jail.   It got tough at times, there was a lot of hours involved, but it wasn’t about—it was about keeping Keweenaw County’s identity, is how I’ve always looked at it.”

In 1997 an addition was built to house an increasing number of inmates at the jail, but those days are over.

Lahti said, “We were housing, at one point, five and six inmates per day on average for the year, and my wife and I lived here for many years and operated the jail as kind of a family run operation. She did the cooking and taking of answering phones and taking care of inmate’s issues, which kept the cost down.”

The layoff of two full–time corrections officers and another part–time employee is expected to save the county upwards of $100,000 a year in staffing costs.

Inmates will instead be housed at the Houghton County Jail.

Lahti said, “This will be an awesome 72–hour lock–up facility, it will work really great for the county. Anybody arrested here will still come here. If they can’t post bond, they can’t—for whatever reason, either they don’t have the money or the bond is too high or the judge refuses bond—after three days they’ll be moved to a different facility.”

The changes become effective April 1st.