Opening Day for the B pod of the Porter County Jail missed its target date
of April 1 due to unforeseen staffing matters, but Sheriff David Lain
believes it can be in operation “sometime in May.”
“I can’t pinpoint a date specifically but we are looking at opening
somewhere next month,” Lain told the Chesterton Tribune.
During Tuesday’s County Commissioners meeting, Lain told the Commissioners
that the physical aspects of the pod are in order, as his crew works have
worked continuously over the last few weeks on clean up and maintenance, but
there are not enough officers on staff to man the new addition.
During the last month or so, the jail has seen at least four officers resign
to take jobs elsewhere or having to take sick leave. Lain said his
department is currently interviewing candidates to take the place of those
leaving officers and then four more will need to be hired for the jail’s B
“We’re trying to play catch up as we expand,” he said.
Lain said that there are still officer positions available and any persons
interested in being candidates are encouraged to contact the Porter County
Jail or Ivy Tech Community College’s campus in Valparaiso.
Ivy Tech is assisting the Sheriff’s Department with testing done by Empco
Inc., a Michigan based company that specializes in testing for public safety
officers, to help with the hiring, Lain said.
As far as medical staffing, Lain said those jobs have been filled and will
be ready when the third pod opens.
The County has taken steps to open the B pod in the last year as Lain has
implored the Commissioners and the Council to ease overcrowding conditions.
In Spring 2012, Lain sent a letter saying that jail had been “stressed”
housing over 450 inmates when there were only 341 beds available with only
the A and C pods open, which presented liability risks. With the B pod, the
number of beds would be brought up to 450.
Lain said that with the combined efforts of County officials and Porter
County PACT, the overcrowding has seen some alleviation. As of this Monday,
the jail had a count of 403 inmates, compared to 433 the same weekend in
2013 and 421 in 2012.
The Sheriff’s Department plans to give the local media a walk-through of the
B pod before it opens, Lain said.
The Commissioners have used the $1.4 million garnered from the 2012
refinancing of the jail building bonds to pay for the new upgrades.
Addictions contract renewed
In another matter, Lain is working with the County Judges to determine why
the monthly revenue yields from the County’s inmate processing fee have
plummeted from $14,000 in January 2012 to $4,000 this January.
The $25 fee has traditionally paid for the agreement with Porter-Starke to
provide services to inmates with drug addictions.
Even though the cost of the contract overreached the fee accumulations by
about $7,000, the Commissioners voted unanimously to renew the contract for
2014 with the hope that other funds in the sheriff’s department budgets can
make up the balance, as they did in 2013.
The contract, which is $11,333 per month, goes to pay two full-time and one
The revenue total from the $25 processing or booking fee started to dwindle
once the Commissioners changed the policy, having been told by the State
Board of Accounts that the County could only collect the fee after a subject
has been convicted.
Lain said the judges have been “nothing but helpful” in trying to make clear
why the funds have seen this much of a decline. “It shouldn’t be this vast.”
They will make the effort to investigate the matter further as keeping the
Chemical Dependency and Addictions program is a worthwhile service, Lain
“This is a program that is too important not to have,” he said.