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DeKalb County Jail needs repairs

DeKalb County commissioners decided in October to hold off on building a new jail for now.

Posted: Feb 15, 2018 10:16 PM
Updated: Feb 15, 2018 10:48 PM

AUBURN, Ind. (WFFT) - A new DeKalb County Jail was planned to be built beside a new community corrections center on the county farm.

However DeKalb County commissioners decided in October to hold off on building a new jail for now.

DeKalb County Sheriff Don Lauer said it will be at least 10 years before a new jail is built in DeKalb County.

That means taxpayers need to make significant repairs to the current jail.

"Our jail security system needs updated," Lauer said.

One major upgrade Lauer said needs done right away is the door-popping system.

Lauer said the system is at least 40-years-old, making it hard to get parts.

"For whatever reason that system would go down, we would be at a minimum weeks before a new system would come up," he said.

Lauer said he's not comfortable with having every door opened with just a key because it becomes a safety issue.

"If we had an emergency evacuation that we had to deal with while operating on keys alone, we would have to open approximately 75 doors to get everybody out of the in an evacuated system," Lauer told WFFT Thursday.

With the system properly working, jail officers just have to turn a key to open all the doors in the jail to get everyone out safely.

That's not the only system wrong in the DeKalb County jail.

Lauer said they can't trust a camera is recording at any given moment.

"We had a situation that had an inmate caused a disruption and overturned a medical cart and caused a big issue. To go back and review that, it wasn't there," Lauer said. Lauer added the camera wasn't recording for two weeks, but started working again a few days after the situation.

He said updating those issues will cost the county about $300,000, money the commissioners told him they don't have.

However, Lauer said commissioners told him they could get a new roof, which would cost around $125,000.

"You have to what is the most important, immediate fix. The roof or the other. I would argue the door operating system because that's a safety issue. The roof is an annoyance," Lauer said.

The DeKalb County Jail is overcrowding.

However, Lauer said recently those counties have rejected inmates because they are also full.

In 2017 DeKalb County taxpayers spent more than $200,000 to house inmates in other counties.

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