- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) - A county jail in northwest Indiana could be released from oversight by the U.S. Department of Justice later this year, according to a local law enforcement official.

The Lake County Jail is closer to the end of a costly six-year intervention meant to improve medical services and sanitation, Sheriff John Buncich told The (Munster) Times (https://bit.ly/1cuCkyx ).

“We came out of it with high marks, especially over the medical. There are just a couple of things we have to fine-tune, which we are doing,” Buncich said. “Then come fall, if everything stays like it is, we move to substantial compliance, and they will be willing to drop this.”

In 2009, the Justice Department’s civil rights division said the Lake County Jail was deficient according to federal standards after a rash of suicides and a disease outbreak amid overcrowding.

The jail’s annual budget has ballooned from $13.6 million in 2009 to $24 million this year.

County officials are excited at the prospect of not having to find new money to meet mandates that have resulted in permanently increasing jail staff and requiring major renovation of the facility’s physical plant, according to County Council President Ted Bilski.

“Deputy U.S. Attorney William Maddox, of the Justice Department, said we should be proud of what we have accomplished,” Bilski said.

A county-paid consultant could watch over the jail’s performance next year if the jail remains in compliance, Buncich said. After that, all federal contact could cease, he said.

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Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com

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