The former Howard County jail, used as the Kokomo Academy since 1996, could become a work release center.
The Kokomo Academy building has been vacant for several years, after Cedarbridge Treatment Centers closed the juvenile care and detention facility. Ownership reverted back to Howard County.
In September, the Howard County Community Corrections Advisory Board started considering opening a work release center for the county.
Ray Tetrault, director of adult community corrections, said Thursday he toured the Kokomo Academy and believes it could be used for a work release center.
“I went through the building with two contractors,” he said. “There is minor repair work needed and trash removed from the building.”
Tetrault said the Indiana Department of Corrections indicated it would be willing to pay Howard County $1,000 per day for 40 beds in a work release center.
He reviewed four previous feasibility studies that looked at the need and costs of a work release center.
The Kokomo Academy could house up to 120 beds, 40 of which would be used for women.
Tetrault said the Kokomo Academy has a sprinkler system, which is a requirement of any building considered for a work release center.
He said keeping the cost to people offered a place in the work release program as low as possible would encourage them to choose that sentencing option.
“There is a need for a work release center,” Napolean Leal, a board member said.
Brad Bagwell, president of the board, said the fact that the building is owned by the county is a plus for the site.
Commissioner Paul Wyman said there were many advantages to converting the Kokomo Academy into a work release center. He said remodeling costs could be minimal.
The Advisory Board also considered the second floor of the Howard County Government Annex as a work release center location, but that option would require the Howard County Health Department to be relocated.
In the past, an expansion of the Howard County jail was mentioned as a possibility.
Tetrault said two buildings were considered in downtown Kokomo but parking and utility costs were a concern.
A study committee is expected to report to the board in December more about the number of people who could be in a work release program, staffing requirements and the cost of operating a center.
People sentenced to work release are allowed to leave the facility for job-related activities and must return to the center on a daily basis. People sentenced to work release pay a daily or weekly per diem as a part of the program.