Report: Porter County Jail needs more officers to open third pod
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent September 17, 2012 4:32PM
Porter County Sherfiff David Lain
Updated: October 19, 2012 6:13AM
VALPARAISO — A federal report on the Porter County Jail recommends hiring a minimum of 12 additional officers to open the jail’s third pod and alleviate overcrowding, and goes on to say a more optimal number of hires would be 36 or even 42 officers.
“These numbers are higher than what I’ve said we need as a minimum” to open the third pod, Sheriff David Lain said after releasing a copy of the report Monday.
Though the study, conducted for free by the U.S. Department of Justice National Institute of Corrections, does not provide cost estimates, Lain said adding even 12 officers would cost roughly $1.5 million. The jail currently has 50 officers.
“I don’t think the county will be in a position any time soon to hire 36 or 42 officers,” Lain said, adding the recommendations made in the report, which has been forwarded on to the County Council and Board of Commissioners, will be part of the budgetary process the council conducts in the coming weeks.
Lain received a final draft of the report Sept. 9, about three weeks after NIC staff visited the jail. He sent a letter to elected officials in May outlining his growing concerns about both overcrowding and inadequate medical care for the inmates, and has said that, even with the third pod open, the jail would be at capacity.
The jail opened in 2002, and its three pods have a capacity for 450 inmates. The third pod was never opened because of staffing constraints, bringing capacity to 341 inmates, but the jail population has been higher than that almost since the beginning.
The average daily population for the past five years or so, according to the report, has been 421 inmates.
“There are simply too many inmates in too little space with too few staff,” the report states, noting that the open two pods are showing signs of wear from their heavy use, and the third pod would need furnishings and other items that were taken out and used in the open pods.
The report does not address the lack of on-site medical personnel at the jail overnight. Lain said that is a separate issue he has also asked the NIC to study, and added the need for medical staff is the greatest concern at the jail.
He is putting together a request for proposal for medical services at the jail. The jail has a contract for services now, but Lain could not comment on whether that contract will remain in place.