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4/18/2017 12:58:00 PM
Dubois County must develop plan to address jail overcrowding

Candy Neal, Herald Staff Writer

The Dubois County Security Center is overcrowded and is not in compliance with state standards.

The Indiana Department of Correction is mandating that the county conduct an analysis within the next six months of how it is going to fix problems due to overcrowding.

The county received notice about the violations in a letter dated April 3 from Kenneth Whipker, executive liaison for sheriff and county jail operations for the DOC. The Dubois County Commissioners discussed the matter with Dubois County Sheriff Donny Lampert during the commissioners’ Monday meeting.

Lampert said the county received notice last year from the state about non-compliance issues as well. But, this time, the state is mandating that the county look into the matter.

“If we don’t do something by next time, this will become more strict,” Lampert said.

An inspector from the DOC inspected the jail on March 31 and found that on that day, the jail:

Was crowded and exceeded its capacity by 11 inmates.

Did not have enough beds for inmates and inmates were sleeping on the floor.

Exceeded the required ratios of showers and commodes for inmates.

Exceeded its square footage for inmates in the dorm area.

Did not have a sufficient amount of empty beds to properly segregate and classify the inmate population.

Did not have enough jail personnel in the jail at all times to provide supervision of the inmates.

With that, the state DOC has mandated the county to get a jail needs assessment done within 180 days, Whipker wrote in the letter. “This will include developing a plan of action for funding, expanding or new build and a time table for such actions,” he wrote. A staff analysis must be done, Whipker wrote.

For some time, Lampert has been telling county officials about the space issues and that the security center needs to expand. The commissioners have been working on getting a committee together to look at space needs for all of its county departments and facilities.

While looking at building needs, Lampert suggested that maybe the county should consider having a rehab facility for people who are released from jail but still have addictions.

“Jail cannot be a rehab,” he said. “The jail is designed to protect your community.”

Lampert said that such places existed some 20 years ago, but not anymore.

He said the jail currently houses about 30 people who could be put into rehab.

“Design a dorm facility, and they’re in an intense rehab program,” Lampert said. “Something like this could help them transition into work release.”

Having such a facility would require the jail to be remodeled, he said.

“We have all these (rehabilitation service) programs going on, but jails are still filling up,” Lampert said. “If we keep doing the same thing we’re doing, we know what the results will be. It’s not working.”

The commissioners said they will work on getting the building assessment done. Lampert has already completed a staffing assessment, which the commissioners have.

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• Jail overcrowding creates difficulties for small Hoosier counties
• Vigo County agrees to new jail deadline of Oct. 1, 2019, ready for occupancy
• Hancock County study of eliminating jail overcrowding has $35 million price tag
• $15 million upgrade requested for overcrowded Harrison County jail
• Search resumes for new Vigo County jail location

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