Clubs Sheriff is guest at weekly Rotary meeting

The Vermillion Rotary Club with Dan Van Peursen presiding met for our weekly lunch at the Silver Dollar. Our guests today were Ruth Scott and Tom Claycomb. For our program we got to hear from Andy Howe, sheriff of Clay County. He gave us the rundown on some of the various policing chores at the local level and how the sheriff's department coordinates its activities with the Vermillion Police Department.

Business is, unfortunately, booming. One of the main responsibilities of sheriff's department is to run the county jail and that means providing for four or five times as many "visitors" as was the case just 20 or so years ago. Some of these inmates, though, are an import from Turner County, which has no jail and must rent jail space elsewhere.

Still, it seems that arrests and jailings are up even without the imports. Making and selling methamphetamines seems to be the main new cause for the increase in business. Local manufacturers can get their recipes off the Internet and make up a batch of product in some bathtub. Remote country houses are favored as scenes of the manufacturing crime. Gives a whole new slant to the image of good, healthy country living.

With prison costs up here (and elsewhere) a new policy has often been adopted (here and elsewhere). Charge them for their confinement. It sort of works. $15 per day is the going rate and when you consider it includes meals, it might sound like a good deal even in a deflationary economy if you're not so fussy about freedom and all that.

The sheriff's department sends the bill to former guests just after their release and if they make no move to pay up, the bill is turned over to a collection agency.

It's all a civil, not criminal matter, however, so apparently this new procedure does not result in filling up more expensive accommodations at the state penitentiary.

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