Washington County Jail - History

Learn about the history of the Washington County Jail from beginning to present.  Find out how many were inmates and how many were Corrections Officers - Then and Now! 

Jail History

The current boundaries of Washington County were established in March of 1853. The first jail in Washington County was built in West Bend and located in what is now known as Courthouse Square.  It was completed between 1857-1858. That jail was a story and a half structure that housed prisoners, as well as the Sheriff and his family.  

In 1886 a new jail was completed in the same location as the previous jail. The 1886 jail was unique at the time due to the sheriff’s home being attached to the jailhouse, and featured two floors of cells. The sheriff’s home was equipped with a hot air furnace, water, sewer and piping. This jail stayed in operation until 1962 at which time a new jail was built. That same year the Washington County Historical Society moved displays into the first floor of the jailhouse and began work on the ”Old Jailhouse Museum.”

In 1972 there were 10 full-time jail employees.

In 1979 a third jail was built at its current location of 500 North Schmidt Road in West Bend. This jail is part of a complex that currently houses the Sheriffs Office, Washington County courts and other various county agencies. The jail, at the time construction was completed, housed 106 inmates and had 14 staff members.  

In 1982 the buildings were listed on the Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places. Today the Old Jailhouse Museum is run by the Washington County Historical Society. Tours and displays of West Bends past are available. 

In 2000 and 2004 remodeling and construction was completed on the existing jail. The current jail has 321 beds for adult inmates, a 26 bed juvenile facility and has 80 employees.


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