MECHANICSBURG — The Tri-County Corrections Commission approved a contract with a firm to review specifications for proposed improvements to the jail’s video arraignment system last week.
Jail Director Scott Springhetti said during the March 6 meeting that the jail is ready to move forward with the improvement project and noted the next part of the project is to put bids out for construction.
The $17,000 contract with telecommunications and information technology consulting firm Olentangy Associates is for two phases. The firm will assess the needs of the jail and respective courts participating in the project as well as assist in changing over to the new improvements.
Springhetti told the Daily Citizen on Monday that the jail has been told the project could cost between $23,000 and $50,000.
The commission began talking about the proposed project last year when the Champaign County Common Pleas Court discussed wanting to do video arraignments.
The jail currently has video arraignment capabilities for the Union County Municipal and Common Pleas Courts and the Champaign County Municipal Court. Springhetti said Thursday that the municipal and common pleas courts in Madison County have indicated they have no interest in video arraignments.
No representatives from Madison County were present at Thursday’s meeting.
In a separate topic, Springhetti said file storage has become an issue for the jail due to the amount of space paperwork is taking up. Springhetti said the jail’s maintenance manager is considering talking about constructing a storage building for storing files. No action was taken on this issue during the meeting.
As of the morning of the meeting, the jail was housing 164 inmates including 45 inmates from Champaign County.
Springhetti said the female inmate count of 46 was high, forcing the jail to convert a male housing unit to a female housing unit. He added that the average female population in January was 34 inmates and 37 in February.
Springhetti also told the board that for the common pleas courts of Champaign and Madison counties the jail had 26 inmates on electronic monitoring.
“As a reference point, if we didn’t have those (electronic monitoring) programs going on we would be in the 190s for our population, so those programs are helping,” Springhetti said.
Springhetti said a canine search of the jail was conducted on Feb. 18 and no drugs or illegal items were detected.
The board approved hiring a part-time licensed practical nurse during the meeting. Springhetti said with one member of the jail’s nursing staff on extended leave, the nursing staff only has a 40-hour a week employee and a 26-hour bi-weekly employee.
Based on a staffing plan established years ago, Springhetti said the jail is supposed to have a full-time nursing supervisor, a full-time registered nurse or licensed practical nurse and a part-time nurse employee.
“When that was done, the hours for the part-time employee were based on 32 hours a week, 64 hours per pay period,” Springhetti said. “The Affordable Care Act has changed the limitations on part-time employees to now we’re looking at less than 30 hours per week or 60 hours per pay period.”
Springhetti said the hiring of an additional licensed practical nurse may provide additional hours the nursing staff needs while staying within guidelines.
Nick Walton can be reached at (937) 652-1331, ext. 220 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.