Vanderburgh Co. Sheriff's Office Not Giving Up on Fight Against Overcrowding

Its no secret Vanderburgh County Jail has an overcrowding problem, and after booking 8,700 in 2016 alone, it's not hard to see why.

Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office is currently responsible for 781 people, this includes on campus, out of county, and work release population.

Out of county population are inmates that were sent to other close by jails due to lack of space at Vanderburgh County's facilities.

The Indiana Department of Corrections suggests all jails operate at 80% capacity, which for Vanderburgh County, would be 450 inmates on campus.

After efforts to expand the jail and hire more staff were shot down last week in the Indiana house, Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding and his office are now at a stand still.

And with a hostage situation in Delaware last week raising the issue of guard safety, more is at stake than the pressing need to find another jail to house Vanderburgh County's overflow.

Sheriff Wedding said, "we've talked about it, but it could happen. We hope it doesn't. We try to take aggressive steps to keep that from happening, but you never know."

With 30 less guards on staff than in other similar sized counties, safety is always a concern.

Wedding said, when talking about the hostage situation, "it certainly is not going to cause it not to happen. That's for sure."

That concern is not just for Wedding's staff.

Wedding said,"if you ask the average citizen if they were a victim of robbery or if their son or daughter had died from an overdose and the drug dealer was apprehended, and they found that person on the street the next day because we didn't have enough jail space."

Wedding made a trip to Washington D.C. last week talking with sheriffs across the country on what he can do to better what Indiana department of corrections already calls a "model operation."

But what lies at the heart of this issue is helping his county see the desperate need.

Wedding said, "if you have a bridge getting ready to collapse and its the main roadway in and out of a community, you fix the bridge. Even though it costs millions of dollars, you fix it because of the risk of not fixing it is pretty great. People are forgetting the risk of not fixing this is great."

Wedding says he plans to meet with Indiana lawmakers with other southwestern Indiana sheriffs soon to work on alternative solutions to this problem.


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