Starke County Jail Committee Holds Meeting

Starke County Jail

The Starke County Jail Committee recently met with representatives from the DLZ Architectural Firm, Skillman Corporation, Umbaugh and Associates, and Ice Miller Legal Councilors.

The next phase of the committee’s work is the data collection by Paul Downing of DLZ. Downing said after he collects the data, including jail bed needs, he will pass the information along to the architectural team.

”They will put together an approximate construction cost estimate,” said Downing. “Then it will be passed along to the financial folks who will say this is what it looks like bonded out.”

The committee is anxious to get the estimates for new construction, or renovation, in hand to bring before the public. Starke County Council President, David Pearman, talked about keeping the public informed completely.

“We’ve already presented some possible scenarios, so this is going to be a good follow up,” assured Pearman. “We’ll be able to say this is what our recommendation is, and this is what its going to cost to do scenario A or B. We can also pass along benefits to those selections. I know a lot of people are waiting for those answers.”

Another committee member, Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall, asked about one segment of the data collection.

“My understanding is that you will look at how many probation officers we have and what we have been doing with incarceration, violations, and alternatives. Will you do all of this before you determine number of beds?”

Downing said all of that and more will be factored into the equation before his data is turned over to the architectural team. They will then come up with cost estimates.

The time line is 60-90 days before all of the information is brought back to the committee. When committee member Kathy Norem asked when data collection will begin, Downing said, “Right now.”

The committee assembled has been charged with bringing back a proposal to the County Commissioners and Council on what to do to bring the Starke County Jail up to standards. The jail is already under a class action suit that alleges sub-standard conditions, and has been plagued by overcrowding periodically over the past several years in spite of efforts by Judge Hall, Community Corrections, and Sheriff Oscar Cowen.