The Starke County Jail Committee met this week. Eight of the ten members were in attendance and heard presentations from two construction project management companies. Representatives from CCI in Ft. Wayne and The Skillman Corporation regional office in Merrillville were on hand to answer questions about jail construction.
Also on hand to address the group was State Senator Jim Arnold of LaPorte. Senator Arnold went through a jail building project when he was the Sheriff of LaPorte County and had this advice for the Committee.
“First and foremost, I would suggest you find a location outside the City,” he said. “We didn’t in LaPorte County. We had a jail and we had the jail downtown so the ‘powers that be’ decided that it wasn’t going to be built outside the City, but it was to be built up. So we moved the jail and started adding floors onto the jail and it’s been nothing but problems. They’re still in the heart of the city and all that traffic to and from the jail comes right downtown.”
Arnold said that one of the Federal mandates is to allow outside recreation.
“At the LaPorte County Jail, we put on the top of the roof. I had problems right off the bat because the inmates were yelling at the people on the street. They were screaming at the people going in and out of the stores and I got calls from day one about it.”
Out in the country, away from a population base prisoners won’t be tempted to cause as much trouble with the public. Senator Arnold suggested building a jail only on one level.
“You can build a facility outside the city on one level. You won’t have to put in an elevator and you won’t have those mechanical problems to face. On a one level facility, there’s room to expand and I believe that you’re going to find that it’s easier for security, it’s going to be easier to maintain and it’ll make it easier on the Sheriff to make sure that he can do his job and his officers can do their job in a much more conducive atmosphere than coming in and out of the downtown area.”