The fifth floor of the LaPorte County Jail remains closed as the LaPorte County Council has not approved enough money to fund the jail overtime budget.
The council discussed the situation Monday night and Sheriff Michael Mollenhauer said the council did approve the transfer of $30,000 from the sheriff’s DOC misdemeanor fund to help fund a portion of the cost for the rest of the year. An appropriation of at least $70,000 was requested to adequately fund that budget for the rest of the year. That money will be used to properly staff jailers and a nurse.
The lack of funding for the overtime budget forced the closure of the jail’s fifth floor and those inmates have been shuffled to other cells in the jail which has caused an overcrowding situation. Shortly after that action was made the week of Sept. 17, a mini-riot broke out in the jail due to the overcrowding situation. Luckily, Mollenhauer said, no one was injured.
Mollenhauer added that with the transfer of $30,000, three employees were able to be hired and the fifth floor may open soon.
“We probably would have been able to get it open again except we had four people that have recently, in the last week-and-a-half to two weeks, left the department. That’s unforeseen, so we’re really strapped for people right now, so even with the overtime, it would be really difficult to open that floor up,” said Mollenhauer.
The jail population remains at a level that continues to cause an overcrowding situation. The population ranges from 300 to 320 inmates a day.
“Now if something happens like an influx of offenders and people being incarcerated, we may have to take more drastic actions, and what it would probably be would be to open up the floor immediately and then I’ll be going back again for more overtime money yet this year, and that’s something that I want to try to keep from doing,” Mollenhauer explained.