Commissioners, sheriff’s office explore female inmate issue

By Melanie Yingst

February 28, 2014

Melanie Yingst

MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Commissioners met with Miami County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dave Duchak on Thursday about the sheriff’s office’s options in regards to its rising female population in the jail.

Near the end of the meeting, commissioner Richard Cultice requested that the sheriff’s office focus on the short term solution to the jail overcrowding issue to balance the needs of the downtown, maximum security facility and the Incarceration Facility on County Road 25-A, outside of Troy. In January, a long-term solution to the Miami County’s jail overcrowding was suggested by Sheriff Charles Cox to consolidate the downtown facility to the IF in years to come.

The meeting concluded with both the commissioners and the sheriff’s office continuing to explore the options to outsource female inmates to Shelby County as well as the cost to lease out beds for females in the region if the sheriff’s office opened a female-only pod at the IF.

Duchak shared as of Thursday morning, 58 minimum security male inmates were at the IF; 54 inmates are in the downtown facility and 26 of them are females. As of press time, 117 inmates were booked in Miami County jails.

Eight of the 26 female inmates are considered “maximum” security felons and could not be moved to a facility like the IF due to their high risk status. The IF is considered only a medium security facility, which was clarified Thursday.

Duchak said it is a growing trend for females to be incarcerated for longer lengths of time and noted jail population as a whole is flat until the weather breaks and crime increases.

Cultice shared with fellow commissioners John Evans and John O’Brien that he spoke with the Shelby County sheriff and two of their commissioners about their available bed space to alleviate the jail’s overcrowding.

Cultice said 25 beds are available to rent to Miami County female inmates from the Shelby County Jail.

Cultice said Shelby County is not interested in a flat-rate payment with a guaranteed number of inmates from Miami County.

Cultice said he’d still like to continue to discuss options with contracting female inmates to Shelby County.

Duchak said jail administrators Lt. Dave Norman and Sgt. Mike Marion have been in touch with surrounding incarceration facilities.

“They are aware of our overcrowding conditions,” Duchak said, noting other local jails including Champaign, Madison and Union’s Tri-County jails and Darke County have been renting bed space from facilities like Mercer County’s jail due to their overcrowded conditions. Duchak said Mercer County has been charging $45 per day per bed in housing those inmates for other counties.

Duchak said the sheriff’s office has not publicly confirmed Miami County’s per day, per bed rate, but pre-2008 it was $55.

Duchak said officials also have made contact with the federal marshal in the Miami Valley who said they were interested in contracting with Miami County if they should have space available, especially for the female population. Duchak said the federal marshal would be interested due to the proximity to its federal court, and would like to talk to Miami County after a contract with Butler County was finalized.

Duchak said the federal marshal would like to know if and when a female pod could be open in the IF before they could work out a contract to lease beds from Miami County.

“There’s a great interest there with respect with female beds,” Duchak said.

Cultice asked how many beds could be rented to outside vendors. Duchak said since the Miami County female population is averaging 25 daily, he wouldn’t want to rent out more than 25 to 30 beds maximum at any given time. One IF pod can hold 60 inmates.

O’Brien said there’s apparently a need for female beds across the region and then asked if there was a market for female inmates above the 25 beds, which could possibly be rented out.

Female beds around the region are in short supply because of their violations are trending upwards, Duchak said.

Duchak said he believed there is a market to house females, it just depends on the regional financial situations if counties can pay for their bed space.

Commissioner Evans asked what was the infrastructure needs to house females at the IF.

“They just can’t see each other,” Duchak said of a co-ed IF. “They can’t be in recreation together, they can’t be in medical together — they have to be completely separated.”

Duchak said some window tinting, and restroom facility upgrades were needed, as well as the eight additional corrections officers to handle the shifts.

Duchak said after state standards are met, a third pod for females could be opened.

The cost to house female inmates at the IF would be $423,374.80 per year for eight corrections officers, including their benefits, uniforms and training. The process to hire the eight corrections officers would take approximately six months.

Duchak said the sheriff’s office is down three corrections officers already budgeted and will be administering a test in April.

“Corrections is a hard job, a hard field,” Duchak said.

Duchak said it would take a minimum of six months to hire three corrections officers, plus the eight for a female pod, if the number of applicants were sound. Once the three in need are hired, an eligibility list would be retained.

O’Brien said the issue of the additional officers is “a budgetary issue” and “very tight” with what is appropriated currently.

O’Brien said the issue isn’t a “if you build it they will come” type of management, but said if female space is needed for the sheriff’s office, commissioners need to explore that option further.