County security center study to be reanalyzed

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

A bunch of charts and numbers were displayed on a screen for members of the county’s justice committee to review Thursday afternoon.

“There are some discrepancies,” RQAW architect Sanjay Patel said before the information was shown. “There’s a huge variation in information that we received, and it changes dramatically [through the years]. We’re trying to figure out why that change took place.”

The numbers were to show various population tallies at the Dubois County Security Center during the past 20 years, such as the total number of admissions, total pre-trial admissions, average length of stay and average monthly population. Those numbers were also broken down into gender.

But as the group looked at the charts being displayed by Cole Walters, architectural intern for RQAW, committee members knew and shared that the information being displayed was either incorrect or not properly interpreted.

For instance, committee members questioned a chart that showed the number of jail admissions by year. The chart’s numbers were less that 100 for each year. Patel and Walters weren’t sure if those numbers represented the year or an average of the year.

Dubois Circuit Judge Nathan Verkamp said he contacted the security center and got total admission numbers for the year. A total of 1,136 people were admitted to the center in 2018; 1,114 in 2017 and 1,010 in 2016. Patel said the raw data RQAW has will need to be analyzed more to determine more accurate totals.

RQAW also looked at other counties with a population similar to Dubois County to see how many beds their jail facilities have for inmates. Those counties, their population as of 2017 and total beds at their jails are:

• Cass County: population 37,994; 208 beds

• Harrison County: population 39,898; 175 beds

• DeKalb County: population 42,836; 105 beds

• Jackson County: population 43,884; 248 beds

• Shelby County: population 44,395; 231 beds

• Lawrence County: population 45,666; 168 beds

The security center in Dubois County, which has a population is 42,558, has 67 beds.

The group also looked at numbers for offenders using community corrections, which showed increases in use. Patel said he and RQAW will continue analyzing all numbers to make sure they aren’t misleading before any conclusions are drawn from them.

RQAW representatives have met with most of the officeholders, and have visited many of the facilities in the justice system; the remaining visits will be completed within the next week. They will also visit all the county offices, Patel said.

“This will help us establish the total square footage needs for the county,” he said, “and then an understanding of where these entities need to be in adjacency to each other.”

Ideas for expanding the current security center and community corrections or for placing a facility elsewhere are being explored.

While a lot of work has been done, there is much more to do, Patel said. “We are not making any recommendations at this point,” he said. “We are not drawing any conclusions.“

The county started looking into overcrowding problems at the security center after receiving a notice about the problem from the Indiana Department of Correction in 2017. A state law that went into effect in 2018 requires a feasibility study be done before any new construction or remodeling can be done to a jail facility. The study must consider the needs of a facility, including size, location, staff and alternatives to incarceration. RQAW of Fischers was hired in December to conduct the study.

County Commissioner Chad Blessinger, a member of the committee, said Thursday that the committee’s next meeting will be in about two weeks, tentatively set for Feb. 14. Once confirmed, that will be posted on the county’s Facebook page, he said.




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