Starke County Commissioners to Discuss Funding for Class Action Lawsuit

Starke County Commissioners ( L to R ) Kathy Norem, Dan Bridegroom, Jennifer Davis

The Starke County Board of Commissioners will be meeting Thursday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. to discuss funding for the class action lawsuit being brought against the County by Jack Haut, a prisoner in the Starke County Jail.

Haut has brought suit against the county alleging unconstitutional and unlawful conditions of confinement at the Starke County Jail. In his suit, Haut alleges that the conditions at the jail are consistently and dangerously overcrowded.

Jack Haut

He claims that the population at the jail many times during his incarceration has climbed above the 62 prisoner capacity level. Among the specific complaints is that because of the overcrowding, there is tension among the prisoners. He also said there is inadequate recreation time for the prisoners and that he has only been in an outside recreation yard five times in the past nine months.

The County has responded to the allegations made by Mr. Haut’s attorney. As can be imagined many of the allegations have been denied. The County did admit in the response that the population has risen to over 62 immates at times, but denied that has contributed to added tension among the prisoners.

The case for the County is being represented by an outside attorney, Mark Boveri, of South Bend. Jim Brugh, of Logansport, is the attorney for Mr. Haut.

There were 72 prisoners in the Starke County Jail yesterday. Sheriff Oscar Cowen said he’s getting the DOC prisoners out as fast as possible. Seven were supposed to go to the DOC this week, but an official there replied, “we have no room for them today.”