Earlier this month, Marshall County Sheriff Matt Hassel spoke to the County Council during the Public Input portion of their meeting.  Sheriff Hassel said he wasn’t there to ask for anything, so he didn’t request to be on the agenda.

The Sheriff was there to inform the County Council on House Bill 1004 which passed and was signed by Governor Holcomb on March 8th.  Hassel read a portion of the bill that said, “Provides that a court may commit a person convicted of a Level 6 felony for an offense committed after June 30, 2022, to the Indiana department of correction.” He said he strongly supports this bill and that the Indiana Sheriff’s Association strongly supports the bill.  The sheriff said, “I strongly recommend to our judges to please sentence the level 6’s who have committed the crime after that date to the Indiana Department of Corrections.”

Sheriff Hassel explained to the County Council that two years ago they started tracking how many state prisoners they were housing in the county jail day-by-day and per month.  They would send in a claim to the state.  He said sometimes it would take three to four months to get the reimbursement they were entitled to for holding state prisoners. 

The state decided to change the method of reimbursement by creating a formula instead of tracking state inmates to determine what the county gets every year. 

Sheriff Hassel strongly urged the County Council to pursue with the judges the new sentencing for level 6 felons. 

Jon VanVactor asked how many level 6’s were currently being held in the County Jail and Sheriff Hassel said currently 17.  He said regularly it runs between 15 to 20. 

The sheriff also told the County Council they are researching and discussing putting together a road clean-up crew of inmates with hopes to start the program this spring.  Hassel said they are looking for grant money items such as protective vests, tools to pick trash up so the inmate isn’t bending over and trash bags.  He said the Sheriff’s Department has a couple of pick-up trucks.

Sheriff Hassel said he is also researching about starting a small work-release program with inmates to help with the factories that are desperately looking for workers. He said those inmates in work release would be detained in one cell block so they are not mixing with the other inmates.  He said it would take an ordinance from the county because the work-release program takes a percentage of the inmate’s income.  He plans to meet with some sheriffs who already have the program.  The sheriff sees this as a way to help those inmates have a job when they are released from the jail.   He said it might also be a deterrent to wind-up back in the jail.