New state rules that are forcing counties to keep low-level convicted felons in county jails are causing headaches in Bartholomew County.
The change last year meant that Level 6 felons are no longer shipped off to state prisons. Jail Commander Maj. John Martoccia said that the Bartholomew County Jail had almost 200 prisoners yesterday. Last year 76 of those inmates were convicted felons. But in 2015, there were no Level 6 felons in the county jail.
Martoccia said that the extra inmates do put a strain on the jail staff.
“The numbers are up, so once you get the numbers up, the staff are pretty much pushed to the limit, to do more work,” Martoccia said. “That goes from transports to medical.”
“If we can’t complete something, we do have to have staff stay over to make sure the task is completed,” Martoccia said.
There is also the added difficulty of keeping the convicted felons separated from the prisoners with misdemeanors and those who are in jail as suspects, but who have yet to be convicted of any crime.
Martoccia said that the state does pay the jails to house the inmates, but it is not enough to cover the extra costs.
“They are paying an amount each day, but it doesn’t take into consideration the manpower issues, the transportation, the medical,” Martoccia said. “But they do pay a certain amount each day per inmate.”
Martoccia said that Bartholomew County officials have been contacted by other county jails, to see if there was room to incarcerate some of their prisoners here.
Sheriff Matt Myers said that the department will hire a consultant, as recommended by the Indiana Department of Corrections to get ahead of the overcrowding issue.
“We are working to be proactive,” Myers said.
He said costs will be covered by money within the current budget”.