The new Starke County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center east of Knox on State Road 8 is still on schedule for a spring 2015 completion. The project is also on budget and features a number of state-of-the-art amenities like video visitation. Commissioner and Starke County Building Corporation President Kathy Norem says it will be much safer and will cut down on the import of contraband into the jail. Rather than visiting face-to-face, family members or other approved visitors will make an appointment to come to the jail and sit in a dedicated visitation room equipped with closed-circuit video. The inmate will be taken to a corresponding video visitation room in the cell block area, and they can chat. Norem says the jail staff will be able to monitor the video feed and end the visitation at any time if inappropriate conduct occurs.
Norem says the cells were also designed with safety and ease of maintenance in mind. None of the pipes are exposed, and everything drains behind the cells. Rather than backing up to a wall, they go to a limited access hallway, known as a chase. There’s a trap behind each cell to catch anything that gets flushed down the toilet that may clog the pipes. The chase means the jailer or maintenance person who needs to make repairs can do so without disrupting the inmates.
Norem adds the new jail will have more than double the capacity of the existing facility and will also be equipped with state-of-the-art technology aimed at keeping inmates safe and secure.
The facility will be home to the sheriff’s department, 911 dispatch center, Starke Circuit Court and the jail. Norem says the county owns enough land at the intersection of 8 and County Road 550 East that there is room to eventually expand the jail if necessary. She adds public open houses will be scheduled once the facility is complete but before inmates move in.