Southern Indiana jail makes changes after reality show

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Indiana Lawyer on November 14, 2016

A southern Indiana jail has made changes including additional officers and more resources for inmates after letting a cable television program film for four months inside its walls, a sheriff said.

The Clark County Jail also has added two body scanners to better detect weapons, drugs and other contraband being smuggled into the jail, Sheriff Jamey Noel said Friday. The jail also now has a drug detection dog for searches throughout the facility.

The A&E’s program “60 Days In” followed seven undercover volunteers disguised as inmates, and only a few jail personnel knew about the filming. The second season finale was shown Thursday.

“Overall, I think it was a good learning experience for us,” Noel said.

Seven officers resigned during the show and five were fired for unacceptable behavior. Noel said. A corrections officer who pulled out a riot gun and threatened inmates during a sewage backup was disciplined, he said.

A&E let the jail keep surveillance equipment worth more than $200,000, and it was used to file about 35 criminal charges against inmates including intimidation, battery and criminal mischief.

Since the show finished filming in March, the jail has added four new officers, Noel said.

During a 10-day break between the filming of the first and second seasons, the jail changed its mental health care after exit interviews showed inmates needed treatment for anxiety, depression, substance abuse and other mental health issues after being released, Noel said.

A pamphlet detailing resources for release was created between the first and second seasons, Noel said. The jail also has expanded its inmate help services including GED programming, substance abuse counseling and courtroom etiquette classes.

“It’s that low point when they’re arrested, I think, that it’s the best time where we can offer help through our inmate programming,” he said. “But it’s tough to do that if they feel they can get those street level drugs” in jail.

Noel said the jail will keep improving using information from debriefing interviews of the undercover inmates and working with Jennifer Ortiz, ?an assistant professor of criminology at Indiana University Southeast, to develop ways to reduce recidivism.

First Timers Holdings LLC, the production company that filmed the show, agreed to pay the jail $500 per day, or $51,000 over the two seasons, which was used to pay for jail equipment and officer training, Noel said.