Crowded Delaware County Jail ‘critically’ understaffed

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DELAWARE COUNTY, Ind. -- The Sheriff for Delaware County says their jail is overcrowded and critically understaffed.

Last month, Sheriff Ray Dudley asked the Delaware County Council for three additional jail officers. The request was denied, but council members told him to come back and re-request to have the funds be taken from the public safety income tax to pay for the officers.

Since that meeting, Dudley had a state inspection and jail staff analysis done. The analysis showed the jail needed an additional 14 officers to operate safely.

Right now, the inmate population is about 238. That's 20 inmates more than what the state allows.

“180 people out here in this corridor right now and I have 3 officers," said Lt. Vivian Malone.

There's a total of 53 correctional officers, but at one time within the entire jail, there's only nine working per shift. The officers are in charge of walking through corridors and checking up on inmates, but they're also doing the duties of cooking, serving food, cleaning and transporting inmates from one side of the jail to the other.

“With all these different things involved, we’re just down so many officers," said Sheriff Dudley.

The ratio is one officer to 39 inmates. Sheriff Dudley said that number is critically low and worries dangerous things could happen if there's a fight or other emergency.

“That keeps the county and the sheriffs office at a liability risk, not only through the prisoners, but also correctional officers," Sheriff Dudley said.

In the next county council meeting, Sheriff Dudley will ask the council for funds for three additional correctional officers, but he said that's only a "band-aid." Those funds will likely come from the public safety income tax, implemented this year.

He's planning to ask the county to come up with a plan to fund the additional 11 officers for the 2017 budget.

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