PRINCETON — Ordered by the Indiana Department of Corrections to come up with a plan to address jail overcrowding and under-staffing within 180 days of a citation issued in July, Gibson County Commissioners want to hire a consulting firm to come up with a long-range plan for the Gibson County Jail.

Gibson County Commissioner Steve Bottoms told the Gibson County Council Tuesday that Rosser International, an Atlanta-based consulting firm, spent more than five hours at the jail and proposes to complete a needs assessment and master plan for $10,000.

Council member Jeremy Overton suggested commissioners find the $10,000 in their budget for consulting services, but Bottoms said he believes the money's obligated for other consulting services this year.

The council agreed to add one corrections officer this year and to examine adding up to four more corrections officers next year after the budget is approved, in order to meet the DOC staffing recommendation.

But the staffing issue still doesn't solve the overcrowding issues, cited in the July DOC report. Bottoms said commissioners are responding to the DOC in February with a letter detailing their plans.

Council members asked whether overcrowding could be alleviated by sending inmates who have already been sentenced to another county jail. There are approximately 37 inmates serving their sentences at the jail. The rate for housing DOC inmates is $35 per day (perhaps $50 per day if the rate is increased by the legislatures). Sending inmates who still have pending cases to another facility would involve transport expenses for court appearances.

The consulting firm's study would address the county jail needs for the next 20 years, according to the proposal from Rosser International. It would involve a six-month study of the jail operation and compiling data on inmate population, average length of stay, facility information including mechanical, plumbing and building systems to help develop master plan of three possible scenarios:

1. expanding the jail on county-owned property to the north

2. a new jail on county-owned property to the south

3. a generic facility on a green-field site.

Each scenario would be evaluated considering construction costs, staffing implications, potential phasing of expansion, potential for future growth past 20 years, inmate management and impact on existing infrastructure.

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