NEW CASTLE, Ind. - Inmates at the Henry County Jail started a fire early Wednesday morning in an attempt to break out of their cells. This is just one of many issues that jail staff is dealing with as they work to increase security and stop inmates from breaking out.
“Visibility was down to nothing. It was smoke, you could get below it but it was building,” said Henry County Sheriff Rick McCorkle.
Jail staff says at least two inmates set a fire hoping the flames would blow the rubber tubing in the system and allow them to climb out of their cell and into the common area which has a phone and a television. After dealing with this same tactic at least ten times, the jail spent $30,000 to replace the rubber tubing with Copper to stop this from happening. The doors held and the fire grew out of control.
“The fire grew bigger than they could handle and set off alarms,” says Sheriff McCorkle.
According to the Henry County Jail the inmates used lead from a pencil and wrapped it in toilet paper, then put it in the microwave to start the fire. Jail staff says the inmates then used pieces of their jail uniform to fuel the flames.
This was not the first time Henry County Jail inmates have used everyday items to try and escape from their cells. Back in 2012, two men stole two large knives from the jail kitchen, wrapped them up in cloth, and used them to carve a hole into the roof. Both inmates got away.
“We try to give them some of the comforts but then you get one or two guys who decide to do this and cause problems for everybody,” said Sheriff McCorkle.
The Henry County Jail is around 30 years old, but county officials say the building is so run down it is similar to a 100-year-old jail. The Henry County council added a .25 percent low-option income tax to help pay for more than $100,000 of recent upgrades for security cameras, body cameras, and the new lock system.
The Henry County Council says the funding for a new jail could be anywhere from $20-50 million.