VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) — Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain is using recommendations from a recent federal study to bolster his case for hiring additional guards and medical personnel for the jail.
Lain said he will ask the Porter County Council during its Oct. 15 budget hearing to consider coming up with the $933,000 needed to hire 16 additional guards.
That's the number of additional guards needed to open a third pod at the jail and provide a greater safety for all employees at the facility, The Times of Munster reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/SQoABM ).
However, before the third pod can be opened, Porter County also must pay $100,000 to $120,000 for repairs to that part of the jail, which has had equipment, furnishings and other items removed for use elsewhere in the facility, Lain said.
A lack of staffing has prevented the third pod from being used since the jail opened 10 years ago.
The National Institute of Corrections concluded in its recent assessment of the jail that, "There is no question that the jail is crowded and under-staffed."
The NIC, an agency within the Federal Bureau of Prisons, recommends the county take immediate steps to open the third pod, hire additional guards and revamp its supervision practices to include more direct contact with inmates.
The latter recommendation leads to fewer problems and greater safety for all at the jail, Lain said. Guards currently spend most of their time in satellite control units observing inmates from a distance and have little interaction due their low numbers.
There have been occasional incidents of guards being injured by inmates, Lain said, including one this past summer.
Republican County Councilman Jim Biggs said he and others on the council believe the needs at the jail are too costly to be addressed at one time.
He and Council President Dan Whitten, a Democrat, said they would like to begin the costly process by addressing the need for more medical care professionals at the jail.
Lain said he does not disagree with the approach and that he's working on a proposal to hire more nurses. He said the nursing staff of five needs to be increased to a combination of 14 full- and part-time providers to expand care within the infirmary and the hours it's available. He did not have a total estimated cost for the additional nurses.
Biggs said all options must be considered, including contracting out medical care.
Porter County Commission President John Evans, a Republican, announced a few weeks ago that he is seeking proposals to determine whether a private vendor could operate the jail and courthouse security at a lower cost than county government.
Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com