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Jail population in La Crosse rising, after the worst of COVID

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The jail population in La Crosse County has been rising to more normal levels lately, following efforts to reduce the number of prisoners during the pandemic.

Jail captain Jim Verse said the county got down to about 60 inmates last year, during the depth of the outbreak, by prosecuting fewer people and releasing many on bond.

Verse expects some of the precautions put in place to prevent COVID might become standard practice, such as having prisoners stay in the jail during court appearances, and using video to show up in court.

About 100 inmates are in jail this week, though Verse says the number got up around 150 just a few days ago.

Close to 50% of La Crosse County’s population has gotten vaccinated against COVID-19, as of this week. And the percentage of jail inmates getting shots is almost as high, according to Verse.

“We’ve been doing that for about two months now,” Verse said. “We’ve vaccinated 42 people, nine have left the jail with one shot, and we have 13 that had the second shot.”

The jail has used the two-shot Pfizer vaccine instead of the single-shot Johnson and Johnson.

Verse added that prisoners have been kept separate as much as possible since the pandemic hit early in 2020, which has helped prevent an outbreak among inmates.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.