Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

October 8, 2013

Easing overcrowding

Renovations, new buildings, new programs help lower county jail populations

The overcrowding issues facing area county jails in the last couple of years have subsided this year, county officials say.

Renovations to the Howard County jail and a new jail in Miami County have helped alleviate most of the overcrowding, and a proposal to build a new jail in Tipton will address that county’s space issues.

Remedies are coming none too soon, as the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed suits against several Indiana counties where jail populations exceeded designed capacities.

In Howard County, the jail housed 370 inmates including 80 women as of last Tuesday, Capt. Harold Vincent, jail commander of the Howard County jail said.

The jail was built in 1993 to house 324 inmates, including 34 women.

To house the ever-increasing number of females at the jail, jail officials earlier this year renovated an indoor recreation room into a 36-bed cell.

The existing cells where males were housed will now be used to house female inmates, Vincent said.

“We still have a lot of women, but [now] we’re able to put them in the same unit,” he said.

The renovation also allowed the jail to warehouse some IDOC inmates at a rate of $35 per day per inmate. With 20 or so IDOC inmates, the jail was collecting up to $700 a day, he said.

But an increase in the number of inmates forced the county to return the 20 inmates, all male, to IDOC, to free up more room for local offenders, Vincent said.

Sentencing offenders to probation and in-home detention through community corrections and the drug court has also helped keep the numbers down.

The drug court, which began in 2007, requires addicts to undergo rehab in three phases of treatment. If they successfully complete the program, their drug offense is dismissed. If not, they will be tried for the charge and likely go to jail or prison. Without the program, those offenders would be housed at the jail anywhere from six months to three years, depending on the charge.

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