Linn County Sheriff Jim Smith didn’t report for duty on Jan. 2, 1965, for the first time in 30 years. Smith, whose term of office spanned from nabbing rustlers during the Depression to catching lawbreakers using radar and two-way radios, was defeated in the November election by Walter Grant.
Among the many interesting facts about Smith during his tenure as sheriff, is that he and his wife, Alice, and their family lived in an apartment at the east end of the jail.
Sheriff Smith started a garden and a small orchard during the Depression to help feed the prisoners and provide a rudimentary “work-release” for some prisoners.
Alice Smith, with institutional equipment in her kitchen, cooked for the prisoners as well as her family. She also served as jail matron.
Sheriff Grant and his family opted not to reside at the jail, so the apartment was remodeled into offices. The Smiths were the last family to reside on May’s Island.
Even though a new Iowa law in 1965 made the Board of Supervisors responsible for feeding the inmates, Mrs. Grant and Chief Jailer’s wife, Mrs. Robert Glynn, continued to plan and prepare meals for prisoners.