Vanderburgh County Council presented with recommended $89.1 million jail expansion plan

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VANDERBURGH COUNTY, In. (WEHT) — Jail overcrowding is an on-going problem in Vanderburgh County, and on Wednesday, the Vanderburgh County Council looked at the latest ideas of what to do about it.

The jail deals with an average of around 800 inmates a day, and around 200 of those are sent to surrounding communities on the tax-payers dollar to combat overcrowding.

The Council heard possible solutions, and the price tags that come with them.

“They’re telling us we’re out of compliance because we don’t have 176 more beds to hold state prisoners, not county inmates,” said councilman at-large Mike Goebel. “They’re throwing more and more on the people in counties like ours, and it is simply not fair.”

As Vanderburgh County continues to grapple with jail overcrowding, there is harsh criticism of the state from county officials and law enforcement.

“I have fought and fought and fought and it’s just going on deaf ears,” Sheriff Dave Wedding told the Council.

Wednesday, consultants presented County Council with five options for jail expansion, all of which would add beds to the jail.

“We said you need 750 beds to satisfy a 20 year needs, roughly 2/3 of that number is to solve the problem that exists today.”

Consultants endorsed option 5, which provides resources for juveniles, rehabilitation and reduced recidivism.

“It’s the least expensive option, over the 20 year period. It provides for the opportunity to take on inmates from other communities.”

Option number 5 is estimated to cost 89.1 million.

“You need another funding source of some sort.”

That funding source may come in the form of a correctional facility income tax.

21 counties in Indiana have already adopted that tax, at a maximum rate of .20%.

“Whatever we build we don’t want to do what we do in 2006: move into a jail that is full,” Wedding said.

The next step: councilors are looking to schedule a meeting to hear from the public on the correctional facility tax .

They said they’d like to set a date soon.

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