After commissioner letter, County Council discusses jail overcrowding solutions

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VANDERBURGH COUNTY, In. (WEHT) _- The search for solutions to combat jail overcrowding continues in Vanderburgh County.

Council members discussed it at Wednesday’s meeting after a county commissioner called for a vote in a letter last week.

During their meeting on Wednesday, councilors discussed what needs to happen to move forward.

“It’s tough,” said Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding. “I think we need to continue to dialogue between the commissioners, the council, the sheriff’s office.”

That is also the message in a letter sent to Vanderburgh County Council on February 27th.

Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners President Jeff Hatfield asked for a vote in the letter, stating “I respectfully request that you schedule a vote on the options that were presented to the council in November 2019, at your earliest possible opportunity.”

“If a vote is going to be called on this body, to make a decision, we’ll have to have authority and somebody on the other side proposing that,” Council President Tom Shetler explained. “We have a specific plan, and then we will entertain that.”

It’s clear much of Council’s frustration lies with the state.

“We’ve got to have our voice at the statehouse,” said Michael Goebel. “They’re going to go along with anything we do, as long as we foot the bill. And that’s going to be thrown directly on the Vandeburgh County taxpayers.”

Overall, the message at the council meeting seemed to be one of unity and making sure history doesn’t repeat itself.

“President Shetler and I, we talk a lot,” Hatfield told the room. “We have to, just because of our titles. And….we’re gonna get there.”

“I wasn’t on council 15 years ago when the last jail was decided. But my recollection is there was a lot of contention between commissioners, council. I think both commissioners and council would like to avoid that at all costs today,” said Shetler.

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(This story was originally published on March 4, 2020.)

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