Group continues digging into criminal justice system

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Not being able to take the National Institute of Corrections’ training about planning new facilities will not deter the local committee that is studying Dubois County’s criminal justice system.

Nor does it mean that a new request for the Planning of New Institutions training won’t be made in the future.

“Anytime you can grab information that’s free, it would be crazy not to do it,” committee head Gil Eckerle said.

NIC’s Planning of New Institutions program is a one-week training program that covers new facility development in detail and focuses on collecting and using data collection and using pre-architectural programming, site evaluation, project management, and staffing need determinations.

NIC representatives conducted a three-day assessment of the county’s criminal justice system in December, per a request from Dubois County. The county commissioners had been looking at space needs for county offices, but their focus shifted to the jail after receiving notice from the Indiana Department of Correction last April mandating that the county address overcrowding.

After the December assessment, NIC representatives suggested that a more refined assessment be done by a local committee and that the community go through the NIC training, if possible. The training, as are other NIC programs and services, is free to jurisdictions. Soon after the assessment, Sheriff Donny Lampert submitted a letter to NIC requesting the training.

Dubois County heard from NIC this month that it would not be able to cover the cost for the training in this fiscal budget year, due to “a significant reduction to the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) FY 2018 budget,” NIC’s technical assistance manager, Mike Jackson, wrote in the April 6 letter to Lampert.

Another request for the training could be made at a later date, in a future federal budget cycle. “In the cycle of how government works, money could come back up (in NIC’s budget) for this,” Eckerle said. “We can request to do it then.”

Jackson indicated that possibility in his letter. “Hopefully NIC will have additional funding for technical assistance in FY 2019, which begins Oct. 1, 2018,” he wrote.

The committee not being able to take the training right now, “will not stop us,” Eckerle said.

“We are still gathering information,” he added. “We’ve got some time before we get down to the grind of this.”

Currently, the committee is collecting information about the county’s system overall and hearing from those who use the system about what is lacking or needs improvements.

Eckerle has heard some comments from the public, although the committee is not yet ready to solicit and gather public input. He has heard from other individuals interested in helping the committee, and from some clubs who want him to speak at a future club meeting.

Next month, the committee will visit the Daviess County criminal justice facilities in Washington. “They have newer facilities there,” Eckerle said.

Daviess County has a new security system and the former jail is now administrative offices. The work release and community corrections are in a different facility that is about half a mile away from the security center.

The Dubois County committee will tour the facilities to see what improvements were made and talk to officials about the process they went through in deciding and implementing the improvements.




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