Central Indiana jail gets new staff, air-conditioner upgrade

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ANDERSON, Ind. — A central Indiana jail is getting an air conditioner upgrade and four new staffers after the county sheriff warned that heat and overcrowding had turned his lockup into a “powder keg.”

The Madison County Jail in Anderson is so overcrowded 40 inmates sleep on its floor every night, while temperatures in its cellblocks hover in the mid-80s due to a faulty air conditioner.

Sheriff Scott Mellinger told the Madison County Council last week he needed money to hire four part-time jail employees to bring the overcrowded jail into line with Indiana’s most recent staffing recommendations.

“This is something that is way overdue; every day is a powder keg,” Mellinger told the council, adding that many of the jail’s inmates are struggling with mental illness and addiction.

The four new hires would allow for a minimum of two staffers at a time in each control room, he said.

Anderson resident Judy Buckles told the council that jail officers’ job is made more difficult because of the jail’s ineffective air conditioning system.

“With heat, that temperature in the office, tempers can get bad. Imagine in jail. Please give them the money,” she said.

The council voted unanimously to give Mellinger $81,000 to hire the four employees, The Herald Bulletin reported (http://bit.ly/1UUFtZr ). In addition, it agreed to transfer $80,000 to purchase and install compressors in the jail’s air conditioner and for other expenses.

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