New Switzerland County jail gets first check for housing other inmates

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Since the Switzerland County Detention Center opened in October of this year, law enforcement agencies from around the area — and the state — have been bringing prisoners here to be held; and are paying the county a per day fee to hold them.

Switzerland County got its first check for that service late last week, receiving a check from Ohio County for more than $21,000.

“We always believed that a jail here in this county would help the taxpayers in two ways,” Sheriff Nathan Hughes said. “We no longer have to pay other counties to house our prisoners; and other counties who don’t have enough jail space are paying us to hold prisoners for them. It’s working out very well for everyone, including the taxpayer.”

The check was from Ohio County, and was for $21,420. It was to pay for prisoners from that county who have been housed here from the time the jail opened on October 8th through the end of November.

Ohio County has an agreement with Switzerland County through which Ohio County has “reserved” 10 beds in the jail here on a daily basis. Per the agreement, Ohio County pays a $35 per day fee for each of those beds — regardless of whether or not there’s a prisoner in them.

So far, that hasn’t been a problem.

“Ohio County has been using their contract spaces and more,” Sheriff Hughes said. “It is working well for them because they know that they have those beds; and it continues to be income for this county.”

In addition, Sheriff Hughes said that the jail has held prisoners for the Indiana Department of Corrections; and has also held some female prisoners from Delaware County, which is where Muncie is located.

The Switzerland County jail is a 50-bed detention facility, and also has two holding cells with a capacity of 10 to 15 each; and a padded cell with a capacity for a single inmate.

Since the jail opened on October 8th, the jail has booked through 235 prisoners: 176 males; 58 females; and one juvenile who was waived to adult court by the justice system and is being held as an adult.

According to statistics provided by jail official Kevin Hayes, the average daily inmate population is just under 27 prisoners, with an average jail stay being about 13 1/2 days.

The month of December has seen an average of just under 30 prisoners per day.

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The Switzerland County Detention facility also provides inmates with educational opportunities while they are serving their sentences.

The Switzerland County Public Library is providing library services to the facility at no cost; and the library is also helping with GED materials. The jail staff would like to find funding to have a licensed teacher available to administer equivalency tests or provide “classroom help” for those inmates studying for their GED.

Several local churches are providing religious services at the jail; and officials are in the planning stages of bringing in an Alcoholics Anonymous group for interested inmates.

The jail building itself is holding up well during its first two months of operation. There have been no major maintenance problems since the facility opened; and any minor problems that have been discovered were covered under warranty and have been repaired.