There is not yet an answer, but now there are plans to combat overcrowding at the Vanderburgh County Jail. Commissioners met Wednesday to comb over a study by RQAW Architecture that lays out five different options for jail expansion.
According to Vanderburgh County Commissioner Cheryl Musgrave, progress was made. “We had a great deal more numbers to look at and options presented to us. Enough options that we were able to focus in – laser focus—on really what we need and that’s the financing pieces, is what we need more information on.”
The expansion plans in the study are listed as options “A” through “E” and range from a 300-bed one-pod addition at $23.7 million dollars – to a 900 bed three-pod addition at $60.8 million dollars.
Several of the expansion options include a “shell” – which is a pod that would be built in anticipation of future increased inmate population, and could be finished when needed. A shell would accomplish the need to plan for the future overcrowding, without draining resources immediately.
The county can currently afford a 300 bed addition comfortably, but need was estimated at 900 to 1,200 additional beds at earlier meetings.
According to Sheriff Dave Wedding, 300 is not enough. “I don’t think 300 would be adequate with 850 inmates.”
The commissioners also discussed options besides expansion to relieve the overcrowding– including adding more judges, courtrooms and prosecutors to speed up court process and reduce inmate headcount. The study found that the county’s average daily population is already one of the lowest in the state at 19.
A proposed project schedule begins September of this year, with an August 2019 construction start date. The plan targets March 2022 for project completion.
For now, commissioners want to continue to crunch numbers — and hear from the state regarding financial considerations.
“$30, $35 dollars a day does not pay for us keeping Indiana State convicted prisoners. How can we factor our cost when we don’t know what they’re going to do?”
Pressure from inmate overcrowding has been building forcing the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s office to consider temporary measures to relieve the strain on the system. As 700 inmates remain behind bars at the 500-bed facility – many have been transferred to other facilities to ease crowding.
To read the complete plan proposal, click here.
(This story was originally published June 27, 2018)