Officials at the Starke County Jail are preparing for an influx of inmates this week. They are Department of Correction prisoners who have been sentenced to an extensive drug treatment program. Starke County was approved late last year for the state’s first non-prison-based therapeutic community, thanks to the efforts of State Sen. Jim Arnold, Starke Circuit Judge Kim Hall and others. Sheriff Bill Dulin says there’s plenty of room in the jail for up to 48 D.O.C. inmates without displacing any local prisoners.
They will be housed in separate cell blocks because of their offense levels and participation in the treatment program, which can last between 8 and 12 months. The program is regional in nature, with inmates from Porter, Starke, LaPorte, St. Joe, Marshall, Pulaski and Fulton Counties participating.
Department of Correction staff will run the class portion of the program, but the Starke County Jail officers will provide security. Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin recently hired Phil Cherry as a therapeutic community coordinator/jail warden. He’s been the jail commander in Pulaski County for the past several years and will serve as a liaison between the county and the state. Dulin also hired Starke County native Nathan Caudill to fill the existing jail commander vacancy. Both have been on the job for about two weeks.
The sheriff is taking a wait-and-see approach before adding more jail officers. He says additional kitchen staff may also be needed.
As for expenses, Dulin says the county already purchased more uniforms, shoes, bedding and toiletries for the new inmates. He says the food bill will also go up as a result of the population spike. Additional medical costs are also anticipated. The state will pay the county $35 per inmate per day to cover the cost of their housing and care.
In addition to the therapeutic community, Dulin is also working with Starke County Community Corrections to offer drug counseling services for in-custody inmates awaiting trial. He says that program will start this spring.