Editor, Times-Union:

I’m going to vote for Jim Smith for sheriff on May 3 because I think that we have a problem in the Kosciusko County Jail. I don’t write that to disparage the current sheriff or portray him as a bad guy. I think that he’s a good guy, and he’s done some good things. His advocacy for the recovering inmates in the JCAP block is particularly commendable. But the rest of the jail is a mess, and I think that we need to acknowledge it.

County Councilman Mike Long recently recorded an interview with a former county maintenance employee who quit his job in exasperation because he felt that the current administration was not listening to his concerns regarding the dramatically increased damage done by inmates in the jail. He recounted inmates managing to burn holes in lights, bend steel doors and break supposedly advanced sprinkler heads, among other things. The amount of damage and the cost that has been passed along to the taxpayer is mind-boggling. The interview is available on the “Jim Smith for Kosciusko County Sheriff” Facebook page, and I encourage everyone to watch it for yourself.  

Rampant drug use and other illegal activities in the jail were brought to light during the public trial that followed a deadly drug overdose by an inmate in 2019. The trial revealed that inmates had easy access to methamphetamine and other drugs, as well as syringes, and that at least one inmate had started up a tattoo business back in the cell blocks.

The issue does not seem to have gotten much better since 2019, as there have been at least three more overdoses in the jail in the past few weeks.

The current sheriff was a state trooper before he took office and had no experience administering a jail. He brought in a jail commander from Noble County, where his father was sheriff, whose experience was with a smaller and less complicated facility. I’m sure they’re trying their best, but they don’t have the knowledge or experience to get things under control.

Jim Smith has focused much of his campaign on the issue of the jail, and he would make it a top priority if elected sheriff. He’s released a detailed plan to get the jail under control which can also be found on his Facebook page or at www.jimsmithforsheriff.com. I encourage everyone to educate yourself on this issue and vote for Jim Smith on May 3.

Steve Conrad

Syracuse, via email