EVANSVILLE, In. (WEHT) – A planned expansion to the Vanderburgh County Jail was discussed in great detail today as the project continues to move forward. Vanderburgh County Sheriff Noah Robinson went before the County Commissioners to give an update on the new jail expansion and explain why the development is so necessary.

“At any given time, we have well over 100 inmates that are kept in counties outside of Vanderburgh, so that’s an enormous expense as you can imagine. These counties are really helping us out by keeping our inmates – but they aren’t doing it for free,” says Robinson.

Officials believe that money could be better spent elsewhere in the community, and that the expansion will do more than just ease overcrowding

“(The expansion will have)168 beds, of which eight will be designated for mental health. An actual mental health wing in the jail, as well as three new video courtrooms to assist us with doing remote video court from the jail to the courthouse,” says Robinson.

The Vanderburgh County Jail in its current form holds about 540 inmates, compared with a need to house around 800. According to County Commission President Cheryl Musgrave, the expansion is necessary to keep the state from stepping in and forcing a solution to the overcrowding. Therefore, this plan leaves the county’s autonomy intact.

“Some counties around the state have been subjected to a federal court order to increase the size of their jails…So for us to address it locally with our own officials and deciding how it looks and how it will function is a much better situation,” says Musgrave.

Construction is planned to start on the expansion this fall, and is expected to take one and a half to two years.