Some inmates released from jail to prevent virus outbreak

Low-risk offenders will complete sentences at home on electronic monitoring
Ozaukee Press staff

Ozaukee County government leaders continue to limit their employees’ contact with the public while still trying to deliver services in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In an effort to reduce the risk of introducing the coronavirus into the Ozaukee County Jail population, some low-risk work release inmates who were within 30 days of being released from jail were placed on electronic monitoring to complete their sentences, Ozaukee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said.

“In collaboration with our judges and district attorney, some other low-risk inmates with work release were granted 45-day furloughs,” he said in a press release. 

The remaining work release inmates have been kept in the jail, he said.

For the same reason, he said new jail inmates are segregated from other inmates who have been in jail longer.

In an effort to limit contact and potential transmission of the virus, Johnson said  deputies are outfitted with personal protection equipment and will sometimes make phone calls instead of interacting face to face with residents.

The dispatch center last week was closed off from other staff to minimize personal contact, he said.

Visits to the Ozaukee County Jail are only allowed by video and court appearances are done by video in most cases. The Ozaukee County Jail Literacy Program and other programs have been suspended.

The Sheriff’s Office will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and will be closed on Fridays. The jail lobby on the north side of the Justice Center will stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In the county Human Services Department, staff is meeting remotely with clients as much as possible, Director Liza Drake said.

“We’re down to essential staff. By the end of the week we’ll have 95% of our staff working remotely,” she said.

The only people from her department remaining in the downtown Port Washington office are nurses giving injections in the behavioral health clinic and reception staff, she said.

“We are asking people to not come into the building,” Drake said. “We are still on our case load doing virtual contact, except if they need to get medication or other essential function. 

“By Friday, we are probably going to go to by-appointment-only hours to decrease the foot traffic.”

That understandably has some of the department’s clients anxious.

“People are worried,” Drake said. Those people are being encouraged to utilize the COPE hot line at 377-2673

“If the call level rises to a crisis, they can transfer calls to our crisis team,” she said.

At the County Clerk of Courts Office, work is being done online, by mail, fax or telephone whenever possible.

That includes judges and staff practicing social distancing and working from home if possible, leaving a skeletal crew in the building to provide essential services as required by law.

Clerk of Courts Mary Lou Mueller said people with business at the Ozaukee County Justice Center should call before leaving home.

“Many services are available online and we can help you through it,” she said.

If a person must come to the Justice Center, she suggested that they come alone. 

All non-essential hearings have been rescheduled and as many hearings as possible are being held by video or telephone.

Mueller said steps also are being taken to allow the public to attend hearings remotely.

Jurors are being asked to complete their jury questionnaire online.

Scheduled weddings will be held, with wedding parties of no more than 10. Each officiant is determining if any new weddings are to be scheduled.

In the treasurer’s office, property tax payments and drainage district payments should be placed in the drop box at the north, middle doors of the Ozaukee County Administration Center at 121 W. Main St. in Port Washington.

Payments also can be mailed and property tax payments can be made online at 

Village of Grafton, Town of Grafton and Village of Bayside residents should contact their municipality to arrange tax payment.

The Ozaukee County Clerk’s Office has suspended passport acceptance services and marriage licenses will be issued by appointment only. 

The Ozaukee County Local Homeless Coalition has modified its shelter services.

The primary shelter providers — Advocates of Ozaukee County and Family Promise of Ozaukee County — will continue to offer shelter services. 

Advocates will be limiting individual rooms to related household members only.

Family Promise has suspended the congregational shelter rotation and opened the day center to shelter up to two households. 

“We are doing everything we can to safely serve the community.” said Kathleen Christenson Fisher, CEO of Family Promise of Ozaukee County. “Sadly, the calls continue to come in from households who are at risk of homelessness. Our priority is to keep people housed and work with families to establish a plan to avoid shelter.”

The Coalition has four agencies, Family Promise, Advocates, St. Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army, that offer homeless prevention rent assistance. 

To mitigate exposure, home visits and one-on-one meetings have been cancelled. Instead, case management, screenings and assessments will be completed over the phone.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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