GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE OLD CEDAR COUNTY JAIL

Operated 1894 - 2001

Note: There is another Old Jail Building still standing in Tipton. It is on 306 Locust Street and has been used as a private residence since 1894.

heriffs and / or Deputies resided in the jail residence from 1894 up until 1977 when, then Sheriff, Keith L. Whitlatch and his wife Lois and daughters Lisa and Valerie resided there. They lived there from August 31, 1977 to September 31. The first civilian Jailer / Matron, Joann Hubble and her husband Charles and their family moved in on October 1, 1977. Charles is now the Juvenile Probation Officer for Cedar County. Joann and Chuck now live in Iowa City. Chuck retired on January 31, 2008.

hey were followed by Jeanne Cook, who served as Jailer / Matron, and her husband Dale Cook, who served as the Cedar County Civil Defense Director. Both Jeanne and her husband are now deceased.

hey were followed by Gary Greene and his wife Deborah. Gary served as jail supervisor and Deborah was matron and supervisor of food services. They were the last residents of the house attached to the jail. Gary is now deceased.

uring the tenure of the Greene's, jail regulations became more stringent and it became necessary to have twenty-four hour supervision of prisoners. More jailers were hired and fifteen minute jail checks were instituted from 6:00pm to 7:00am. During the day-time hours, one-half hour checks were made. When the Greene's moved out, the shift jailers continued to work, but no one resided in the living quarters.

he Greene's last day in the jail residence was June 30. 2000, and the last prisoners were moved out of the jail at 4th and Lynn to the new facility on the Old Muscatine Road on April 13, 2001.

am Siemonsma became the jail supervisor when the Greene's retired and was later named jail administrator by Sheriff Dan Hannes. She remained in this position when the sheriff's office and jail were moved into the new Law Enforcement Center.

hen the sheriff, and or deputy resided in the jail residence, the sheriff (or deputy) served as jailer and his wife served as cook / matron, thus the term "Mom and Pop" jail came about.

rom the period 18947 to 1977, the prisoners were basically seen three times a day (meal time) plus when prisoners were moved, (ie, incarcerated, released, put into the outside yard or released to perform some task around the jail or courthouse. In some cases certain prisoners even served as "baby sitters" of the jailer's children.

n 1977 the jail standards were adopted by the State of Iowa, Department of Corrections. This set up new guidelines under which all county jails MUST operate. It covered the physical plant (jail building), the operating rules, including rights of the prisoners and their supervision. Mandatory checks were required. this meant that someone must be on the premises of the facility at all times. Previously, if the sheriff or deputy was working and his wife wanted to go somewhere, the facility was left unattended. With the jail standards in effect, the jail was only unattended if the jail was totally empty.

uring the daytime hours, basically from 6:00am to 10:00pm, the jailer or assistant (spouse) was present and conducted periodic checks plus checking at mealtime. However, during the night-time hours, when the jailer slept, a road deputy, or a Tipton Police Officer, came in and conducted the checks. This was inadequate at best, but served the bare minimum of the requirements of the law. In some counties where the sheriff's office was physically attached to the jail, the radio dispatchers performed the jail checks. This also created problems as it took the dispatcher away from the radio and telephone.

ventually the rules got stricter and checks were mandated for every hour and even every fifteen minutes, if the prisoner was considered "at risk, i.e. suicidal, depressed, intoxicated or unruly. thus, the shift jailers came into being. The jail supervisor and his / her spouse covered the week day hours 6:00am to 7:00pm. Shift jailers then worked the evening hours from 7:00pm to 6:00am, and week-ends. Also, with shift jailers on duty jail checks of 15 minutes were put into place. This was documented by a written log and eventually a time clock was installed. The basic rule was "If it's not documented, it didn't happen."

he old jail is basically three areas:
1. the Vestibule, which is the room coming in from the outside of the jail residence,
2. the smaller 4 person cell, which was originally juvenile or female, and
3. the larger cell block area. The larger cell block area has smaller cells inside it and that has a four bed cell and a two bed cell. The prisoners in the large cell block had free run inside of their area with the door between the cell block and vestibule being locked.

ith the last jail break out of the Cedar County Jail by Richard Jarvis Jr, and darrell Plumley, new regulations were put into place by Sheriff Keith Whitlatch. A visitor to one of the prisoners had smuggled in three hacksaw blades and the aforementioned prisoners cut through two bars on the west window. After the jail break, the prisoners were locked down at 10:00pm and did not have access to the outside bars or windows. Also, items for the prisoners were searched and the visitors were supervised while visiting the prisoners. When the shift jailers were added, the jailers were required to walk around the perimeter of the cage area of the lock-up. This was documented by the placement of the time clock they must "clock in" in the northwest corner of the outer perimeter of the cell area.

he food for the prisoners was prepared most of the time in the jail kitchen. On occasions it was prepared by a nearby restaurant and breakfast rolls were purchased from the bakery, which was (and is in 2008) across the alley to the east from the jail kitchen. Meals were prepared by the jailer's wife and served three times a day. The food was served to the prisoners through a "pass-thru" opening in the cell doors. The prisoners ate their meals at a counter within the cell block area. The prisoners in the four person cell (juvenile or female) had to set on their bed to eat. In later years requirements mandated a table and a seat.

hen the state jail standards were instituted, this also included food menus had to be prepared in advance and kept for a year. The menus had to be inspected by a Food Nutritionist or the county nurse, to make sure they were healthy for the prisoners. When the shift jailers system was implemented the procedures changed somewhat. The head cook prepared all menus, and prepared the food for the noon and evening meals. The shift jailers served the morning meal and week-end meals. The jailers ate the same food as the prisoners. Standards for jail food required that two of the three meals served each day must be hot.

he old jail was closed on Friday 13th of April, 2001. Since then the Cedar County Friends of Historic Preservation was formed and they purchased the old jail and house from the Cedar county Board of Supervisors, for $25.00. Renovation is being done on the residence, including the dining room and kitchen. However, the jail remains exactly the same as it was on April 13, 2001. The shutters on the inside of the windows were re-attached. (they had been removed in the late 70's to put on storm windows). On the exterior a "sally-port" has been removed, and the larger security fence on the south and west side has been removed. The exercise pen with concrete floor on the west side remains and the "razor wire" on the top of the fence has been removed.

he jail and attached residence has been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The jail and attached residence has been chosen as the Official Museum for the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association. An agreement between them and the Cedar County Friends of the Historic Preservation has been signed governing the operation of the museum.

s of January 2010 the officers of the Cedar County Friends of Historic Preservation are:

  • President : Keith L. whitlatch - Cedar County Sheriff, Retired
  • Vice President : Dr. Frederick Drexler
  • Secretary : Cleo Ferguson
  • Treasurer : James Jorgensen





PHOTOGRAPHS OVER THE YEARS







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