MECHANISBURG – The Tri-County Regional Jail Commission received an update on the proposed body scanner project during a recent meeting.
The body scanner project has been discussed over the past few jail commission meetings as a potential tool to help discover illegal contraband when entering the jail.
Jail Executive Director Scott Springhetti said the jail is still researching body scanning technology to determine what the jail needs and where they would place the device if they get one.
Springhetti said he does not want the jail to write a request for bids that would isolate potential vendors from the bidding process.
A hypothetical scenario of if illegal contraband is found was also discussed. Springhetti said he had drafted letters to local felony prosecutors asking what procedures the jail should take when items are found. Being a multi-county facility, Springhetti said the jail is in different situation compared to counties with body scanners like Hamilton and Wood County.
“What’s the next step when we’ve identified that somebody has contraband and whether the arresting agency takes them out and the charges are done in that county or if everything filters through Champaign County as new charges because the jail is physically in Champaign County?” Springhetti said.
While the commission initially discussed using money from the work release fund to help pay for the body scanner, Springhetti asked the commission to consider using carryover funds towards any purchase. He stated after the first year, maintenance checks on the body scanner can run between $8,000 and $9,000.
“If we are able to utilize the carryover funds for the purchase, we could then look at that work release fund as potentially sustaining the body scanner for – with where the work release fund is now – over 20 years,” Springhetti said. “And it also leaves that work release fund relatively untouched because on average we pull in between $9,000 and $10,000 a year into the work release fund account so it’s almost going to keep that at an even playing field if somewhere down the road something else is needed.”
Earlier in the meeting, Springhetti said the work release fund had a balance of $188,796.75.
During the meeting, Springhetti also informed the commission of the jail’s transition to LED lighting from fluorescent lighting (a project that would streamline the jail’s key-control system) and the status of considering staff radios for every staff member.
As of the morning of March 3, Champaign County accounted for 45 of the 163 total inmates in the jail. Madison County had 62 inmates while Union County accounted for 56 inmates.
Champaign County also accounted for 17 of the 20 total inmates on electronic monitoring.
Springhetti said the inmate population has been increasing since last November and reached a high of 203 in January. He added the jail’s female population continues to drive the use of the conversion unit for housing female offenders and continues to experience a large volume of medical and mental health needs for inmates as well as drug offenders.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.