Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

September 6, 2013

Public safety at the forefront

BROOKVILLE – When Franklin County Council members received input from department heads about the proposed $15.3 million budget for 2014 during the first of two days of hearings Aug. 26, public safety was at the forefront.

“Jail standards adopted in 2013 change the way every jail in the state … operates,” pointed out Sheriff Ken Murphy. In 2013, $751,912 was allotted for the Franklin County Security Center, Brookville. The sheriff suggested more than doubling that to $1.82 million next year because of the new rules.

Murphy said he realizes the proposed jail budget is “enormous.” Of the need to be in compliance with Indiana Department of Corrections guidelines, he observed, “we are not going to cure this … in three budget cycles. I think we need to put a plan together where we work toward that end.”

Kenneth Whipker, IDOC jail inspector, Indianapolis, performed a jail staffing analysis for the county facility. “The standards require sufficient amount of staff for inmates, staff and public safety.” New jail designs call for a modular shape with control points, which is less labor intensive than older ones. He explained the Franklin County jail has a linear design on several floors, which is “very labor intensive. You can’t get from point A to point B very quickly.” The sheriff reported, “I asked for everything that was in the staffing analysis” and that’s why the recommended budget is so much more than in the past.

Whipker cautioned the county could face lawsuits if rules are ignored. He assured members a dangerous situation will happen at the county facility sometime in the future. “One critical incident in your jail will override everything you’ve tried to do … if the jail is understaffed and there is a critical incident” due to lack of staff or medical resources, the court won’t care if there were not enough funds.

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