Starke County Commissioner Kathy Norem recently led a group of county officials to a National Institute of Corrections Conference in Denver, Colorado where they studied the procedure for identifying jail needs and how a project moves along after a decision is made.
Norem also led officials on tours of other jails. One thing we have not heard is what the price range might be of a new jail. She talked about how she viewed the make-up and price of the Miami County Jail.
“Miami County was probably more suitable for something that we would want to see locally and that was around $12 million or $14 million.”
One thing the group heard in Colorado is that there is a danger with a jail in the condition of the Starke County Jail because of the possibility of lawsuits. The Jack Haut Class Action lawsuit is still moving through the legal system. Even though Kathy Norem has never expressed guilt in the suit, she has mentioned that there might be others that are brought with merit.
“Basically, that lawsuit is alleging his constitutional rights are being violated and we deny that. That is not true. We do not believe that to be true and we intend to vigorously defend that. However, that doesn’t alleviate us from addressing ongoing issues within that jail. One thing that we need to do is take a look at how other people are doing their facilities and what some of their policies and practices are and try to adopt some of the best ones here.”
Chief Deputy Bill Dulin of the Starke County Sheriff’s Department will be in to discuss jail issues with us tomorrow.