The Starke County Jail Committee recently evaluated the public informational meetings held in January. Those meetings were held in Knox, North Judson and Hamlet.
County Council President, David Pearman, is on the Jail Committee and said the meetings were very informative.
“I really thought the questions were great,” said Pearman. “A lot of them were centered around if we looked for other funding sources. We have but there aren’t many funding sources out there. Things have dried up when it comes to debt service and really there are only a couple of ways we can handle that. That’s through property tax or income tax. I think that was a good test platform as well because we had such great questions at those meetings.”
Pearman said the overriding fear of the committee is that a pending Class Action Suit will give a judge the ability to issue a “build” order.
“If we don’t do something then we could be at the mercy of a judge and he may say,’you need to build a new jail and it’s going to have these specs’ and it’s going to be out of our hands. If we don’t handle the issue on how we’re going to deal with debt service, then that could be a problem as well because now we have to take those funds from existing funds.”
No matter what the public thinks about the type of housing granted to prisoners, there are guidelines that must be followed for humane treatment.
“We have certain guidelines we have to follow, we have a certain environment that we have to provide for the inmates and our hands are tied.”
Pearman said there are many reasons that something has to be done about the Starke County Jail situation.
“From the safety to the public to the safety of our staff at the Jail – it’s just something that’s going to change. It’s not like we’re going to build the Taj Mahal. We’re going to build something that is as functional as possible. We’d like to be aesthetically pleasing, but that’s not the first issue of it. Whatever we deal with moving forward, it’s going to be functional and it’s going to be something that’s going to have sustenance. We want something that’s going to last and be durable. I have to say the jail that’s currently there probably suffers from some old design and some old engineering and things like that, whereas this will be state-of-the-art that we deal with moving forward.”