Lt. Larry Holderman, director of the Kosciuskoi County work release program (far right), stands with work release officers (L to R)  Ed Brown and Chas Demster in a new office area. Photo by Dan Spalding.
Lt. Larry Holderman, director of the Kosciuskoi County work release program (far right), stands with work release officers (L to R) Ed Brown and Chas Demster in a new office area. Photo by Dan Spalding.
Women in Kosciusko County’s work release program will soon be moved from the jail to the work release facility near U.S. 30 and Center Street in Warsaw.
The move will put women in the program on par with their male counterparts and will open up more jail space for men, said Sheriff Aaron Rovenstine.
The dark brick former hotel has been used by the county for about 16 years for work release and is being renovated to improve security and accommodate women in separately secure areas of the building.
Twelve rooms on the second floor will be reserved for women.
Other improvements that are part of the $356,000 in renovations include a new office area for work release officers and improved security measures, including new cameras.
On Monday, new locks were being installed on various interior doors. On Tuesday, workers were installing cabinets and working on electrical issues.
The facility includes separate break  rooms for men and women as well as a divided cafeteria.
 The new office area was designed so officers can directly monitor separate “day rooms,” said Larry Holderman, director of work release during a tour of the building.
About a dozen women currently in work release will be moved out of the jail and into the renovated facility by the end of the month, Holderman said.
What they’ll find is a substantial upgrade to the living conditions compared to the jail.
The individual rooms look much like those in any other hotel room, except there are no televisions. There are two beds as well as a typical bathroom and shower.
Work release is intended for non-violent offenders, many of whom tend to be habitual traffic offenders and meth dealers, Holderman said.
Those in the program pay fees for the program based on their income.
Work release currently houses about 52 men. Last year, they had as many as 73 at one time.
With the new arrangement, the maximum number that can be served is 110.
The shift will allow the jail to slightly reconfigure so it can house more men, Rovenstine said.
The move comes amid on-going pressure from the state to keep more convicts in jails rather than in state facilities.
The county jail can house up to 305 inmates. Tuesday’s population was 247.
There are currently 101 offenders in either community corrections and work release.
Alternative sentencing programs like work release that keep people from sitting in jail provide benefits for the county and the offenders.
For many offenders, work release offers a chance to keep their job while also maintaining closer relations with family.
In turn, the county gains more space for other inmates and avoids having to pay incidental medical costs for offenders if they had remained in jail.
“Study after study has proven there’s less recidivism rate when you go this route than when you send them to the DOC,” Rovenstine said, refering to the Indiana Department of Corrections.
With reconfiguring of the facility and the growth of the county’s home detention program, the county will soon be able to supervise up to about 150 offenders who would otherwise be sitting in jail.
“This is so much more positive for everybody,” said county commissioner Ron Truex, who was among a small group that toured the building Monday.
While work release used to be a short- term program, some offenders now remain in the program for more than two years.
The program also offers job opportunities for offenders with some local firms.
Among the companies that work with the county is Creighton Bros., LLC, an egg production company where Truex is general manager.
“I’ve used work release people over the years because they’re great employees. They come to work. They don’t want to be late. They want overtime and when they get released, they leave,” Truex said.