CLINTON — The Clinton County Sheriff’s Office is requesting to have the authority to hire four full-time correctional officers as it looks toward the January 2019 opening of the new Clinton County Law Center.

Clinton County Sheriff’s Office representatives generated a proposal for the office’s budget requests for fiscal year 2019. The county budget term begins on July 1, 2018 and runs through June 30, 2019. The budget includes half of the fiscal year in the current law center facility before a move in January 2019 to the new law center facility, which is currently under construction.

The Clinton County Sheriff’s Office is requesting the county allow the sheriff’s office to hire four additional correctional officers. There are currently 13 correctional officers, two deputies, a jail administrator and an assistant jail administrator. The Clinton County Jail in 2015 housed 32 to 33 inmates from May to July, which Jail Administrator Paul Hammond said were the highest three months of the year. They housed 51 to 59 inmates in 2016 and 62 to 63 inmates in 2017 during that time period.

“We’ve also talked to some other entities that have a say in who goes to jail and who doesn’t, such as probation and parole,” Hammond said. “And they anticipate with our new facility they should be placing more people in jail that should be in jail that are currently out now.”

The budget proposal states the cost for one full-time correctional officer is currently $54,856.85, including salary and benefits. Hammond stated if the Board of Supervisors approves the sheriff’s office hiring four correctional officers the sheriff’s office will reduce its number of part-time correctional officers. The reduction covers the cost to hire one of the four full-time correctional officers.

Hammond said the move to the new jail will fund three full-time officers and still give a savings of over $131,000 due to the savings from not needing to pay $296,455 to fund the housing of inmates out of county.

“The jail needs study shows that as our jail population increased there would be the need for more staff to oversee those people,” Clinton County Sheriff Rick Lincoln said. “That’s a liability issue for the people working in the jail. We have to have a number of people there that can respond to instances, book people in and patrol. There’s a lot of different functions going on. So I think people grasped that we wouldn’t have to hire more people. That wasn’t meant forever. It was based on the number of people that we have in jail at that time.”

The Clinton County Jail currently includes 44 beds, while the new law center facility will have 112 beds. The average population in the new law center facility is expected to be at approximately 80 inmates.

The budget request includes increases in budgeted amounts for food and provisions, clothing and dry goods, custodial, primary treatment and prescription drugs due to the anticipated increase in inmates when the new facility opens. The request does not allocate any funds for the Prison Rape Elimination Act audit, which occurs every three years at the cost of the county. The first audit will be at the new facility. The audit is expected to be completed two or three years after the opening of the new facility.

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