Data Collection of Starke County Jail to begin

Starke County Jail

The 32 hour National Institute of Corrections Conference in Denver, Colorado has given Starke County Deputy Bill Dulin a new perspective on how to plan for a new, remodeled or retrofitted jail.

As we heard earlier from Sheriff Oscar Cowen and Councilman David Pearman, now is the time for data collection. It begins with a request by Sheriff Cowen to have the National Institute of Corrections to come in and inspect the jail.

Dulin said that the next step is compiling data.

“We are going to collect and analyze some data trends which will include some lawsuits and how much the county and the county taxpayers have paid out in lawsuits based on the conditions of the jail,” said Dulin.

Also needed is a projection of what the jail population will look like in the future. As more jobs are attracted to Starke County, that means more people moving into the area.

“Based on that, we’re going to predict the future population of the jail. It’s kind of a rough estimate but it gives you a ball park figure rather than just shooting a number out and we’re unable to staff that facility. Then we’re going to look into alternative detention and options such as Community Corrections and work release and how that’s going to impact the population.”

Many of the prisoners being held in the Starke County Jail have been incarcerated on more than one occasion. Data is needed on how to break that chain.

“Now it’s more about the rehabilitation part of it rather than throwing them behind closed doors and forget them. What I mean by that is with the programs that are available now they can recuperate so their recividism rate will not continue. Right now, I think the recividism rate is roughly around 70 to 80 percent and that’s also something we’re going to analyze.”

When the jail was built in the 70’s, then-Sheriff Wyland had a much different type of prisoner than who is being held today. The group that is concentrating on the jail situation is aware that today’s criminal doesn’t fit this jail.

“The trends have obviously changed,” continued Dulin. “The crime rate now is a lot different and that means the drug addiction is lot different now, the types of drugs they’re on and with that comes the medical side of it too. They have withdrawals that we have to tend to.”

It’s obvious since the symposium that the group is dedicated to exploring all avenues to cure this problem. It’s going to take time, hard work, and money to complete what’s before them.