Sheriff Gives Sneak Peek Of New Jail; Tours Continue Saturday
By Mike Perleberg
One of the new 32-bed pods in the expansion of the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center. Video conferencing stations can be seen on the wall to the left. Photo by Mike Perleberg, Eagle 99.3.
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – The expanded section of the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center will start housing inmates soon, but first citizens without criminal records are given a peek inside.
Dearborn County Sheriff Mike Kreinhop and project leaders with Maxwell Construction gave tours of the expanded jail in Lawrenceburg to county employees Friday. Public tours of the Dearborn County jail expansion in Lawrenceburg will be held Saturday morning, August 16 at 10:30 and 11:30. Visitors will not be allowed to take photographs for security purposes.
The $11.5 million jail addition will nearly double the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center’s inmate capacity to 424 beds. The old jail is currently overcrowded at around 250 inmates – its capacity is 216. Initially, about 50 inmates will be brought to the new facility, Kreinhop said during the tour.
The sheriff also said the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center could rent out unused beds to other counties, creating a new revenue stream for the department. Criminal sentencing reform taking effect in Indiana this year will keep felony convicts in local jails longer, likely leading to overcrowding problems in counties across the state.
“We’re prepared and a lot of counties are not,” Kreinhop said. “We expect other counties may need the space, but we’ll wait to get up and operational.”
No possible sharing of the county’s excess jail space has been investigated yet.
Unlike the old jail which has beds in cells dedicated to two inmates, the expansion’s beds are all in an open area. Kreinhop said prisoners who pose a higher security risk – those prone to fighting or being uncooperative with jail staff – will remain in the old jail. Only prisoners who are classified as being at a lower risk will be permitted to stay in the new, nicer area.
Other inmates who earn the privilege will work in the jail’s kitchen connected to a special bunk. The kitchen is large enough to prepare meals for all prisoners, meaning the kitchen in the old jail can be repurposed. Brad Rullman with Maxwell Construction said the kitchen will be turned into a new healthcare area for inmates, likely to be ready in November or December.
The new jail increases space, and thus enrollment, for Dearborn County court’s Jail Chemical Addiction Program. A special dorm and classroom for JCAP participants is featured in the new jail. JCAP will be capable of handling up to 16 male and 16 female inmates with substance abuse issues every 90 days. The aim is to reduce recidivism so that JCAP participants will stay clean once released back into the population and never see the inside of the jail again.
Another feature of the expansion is the introduction of video conferencing for inmates using televideo stations. Kreinhop said inmates who earn the privilege will still be able to meet in-person with their family, attorney, or clergy. The system has the capability to be used for video arraignment, meaning the sheriff’s department could see a cost savings and security increase by not having to escort inmates to and from court.