Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak hopes to have a 60-bed pod for females open at the county Incarceration Facility (IF) by the end of March.

The need for female beds continued to grow since the county began housing up to 15 females a day in the Shelby County Jail under contract in August 2014. That housing has cost the county around $300,000 a year.

The cost of opening/operating a third pod at the IF was estimated at around the same cost. The cost for four more employees, with family medical benefits, would be around $215,000 a year. There also would be more costs for food, utilities and some medical services with more inmates at the IF.

No longer using the Shelby County facility also would help with transportation costs.

“It will be nice to cease transports to Shelby County,” Duchak said. “I don’t anticipate much change (in daily operations). We have had several meetings with correction supervisors to prepare for the opening. We feel we are ready although I am sure there will be a hiccup or two after it is opened until things are normalized.”

The county commissioners gave the sheriff’s office the go ahead to open the third pod in November 2015 but an opening has not been possible because of inadequate staffing.

Duchak said the county continued to hire correction officers to staff the IF and the county jail in downtown Troy during the past year but the four additional officers needed was hard to attain because of attrition due to retirements and people leaving for other jobs in law enforcement or other fields.

As of mid-February 52 correction officers had been hired. Duchak said 50 would be needed for staffing existing and new space. The late March opening is “barring any more issues,” he said.

The sheriff’s department will continue to interview for the correction officer job to have people to draw from when openings occur.

The IF has four 60-bed pods. Two now are used to house nonviolent males. The downtown Troy jail is for violent offenders, male and female, but is limited by the state in the numbers it can hold.

Duchak said Shelby County also has seen an increase in female offenders and has more limited space to offer. In addition to female offenders, Miami County is seeing more violent male offenders, he said.

County commission President Jack Evans said he was encouraged to hear the sheriff’s office sees opening in the near future.

“Since we gave the go ahead we have been eager to get that pod open, as I am sure the sheriff is, too,” he said.