Sheriff Fries: Protecting Inmates From Rape Will Cost Allen County Millions

By Jeff Neumeyer

June 5, 2013 Updated Jun 6, 2013 at 11:45 AM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --- Millions of taxpayer dollars will have to be spent in Allen County, to try and reduce the risk of rapes occurring in the local jail.

Sheriff Ken Fries says he'll be ordering changes to comply with a new federal law designed to boost inmate safety.

It will impact any confinement facilities that don't meet new standards.

Fries says under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, his department figures to have to hire as many as 40 new confinement officers, so each staff member doesn't have to watch over as many prisoners.

An entire upper floor will be renovated, adding cells so certain inmates, including transgenders and those under 18 years of age, can be separated out from the rest of the inmate population.

New technology must also be purchased, allowing employees to more effectively monitor high-risk prisoners 24 hours a day.

" We have to set up a phone bank, so they (inmates) can call this certain number if something happens, they can notify us that it happened. All confinement officers, all police officers have to be trained differently. It'll probably cost close to $5-million to get this put in place," Fries said.

County governments that choose not to make upgrades to get in step with the new law run the risk of losing federal grant funding, and facing increased exposure to lawsuits.

Sheriff Fries thinks Allen County will have to spend cash on capital improvements and more personnel over the next year or so, and he's already warned county council that it's coming down the pike.

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