Starke County Officials to use Tools from Corrections Conference to Make Decision on Jail

Starke County Jail

Are the taxpayers in the mood to consider some expensive building programs in the near future? The Knox Community School Corporation has a committee put together to consider remodeling the Palmer Wing at the Elementary building, the Starke County Library Board wants to remodel a portion of the Henry F. Schricker Branch Library and the County Commissioners are still considering a new or remodeled county jail.

Those individuals, governmental officials, and boards all face one problem: Selling the public on their project.

Starke County officials, including Starke County Councilman David Pearman, just back from a Corrections Conference in Denver, Colorado have the tools to identify the needs, and the ways to positively engage the taxpayers in the decided plan.

“Number one, we have to look at the fact that based on operational costs and capital costs combined, we may not be able to do anything,” said Pearman. “The second option we’ve considered, or at least have see the light with, is that the possibility of the existing structure be changed or altered in some way to try to facilitate, at some level, some of the issues that we’re dealing with.”

“We’re looking at collateral we have within our existing county properties and maybe make some considerations about outfitting something that’s existing. The fourth option would be the most obvious, with all of the previous options spelled out, is that we might look to a completely new site.”

And an other option would be contracting with a private company to build a jail, or farming out our prisoners to neighboring counties with larger jails that aren’t filled.

“That’s a interesting issue and actually Sheriff Cowen had outlined that somewhat and certainly I don’t know if we consider that as a sixth option on our part. Some of our due diligence that we’ve looked at already include pricing and things like that, but typically a lot of these institutions want to look at more of the housing aspect but they don’t want to cover the medical and transportation. Since it’s not the ability to offer all the aspects of what’s required, it really wouldn’t affect us as positively in the area of staffing and some of the operational costs. I don’t think it’s as good of a consideration, but it’s certainly in there as well.”