Judge says May 15 deadline to reduce prison population will be met

Allen County judges, the board of commissioners and the sheriff have about two weeks before a federal judge’s deadline to reduce the number of inmates at the Allen County jail, deemed overcrowded and inhumane.

That deadline will be met, Allen Circuit Judge Wendy Davis said Thursday just after the meeting of the Allen County Community Corrections Advisory Board, where she chaired as vice chair in place of Board Chair, Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull.

“Absolutely, I do,” Davis said of meeting the deadline. “I think with our cooperation in Allen County, as I said, Judge Gull and I are at every meeting with the commissioners, with the county council, with the sheriff, with probation, community corrections. We are all talking about it together to find solutions in accordance with the judge’s orders.

When Federal Judge Damon R. Leichty issued his opinion on March 31, he gave Sheriff David Gladieux, Allen County Commissioners and the Allen County Board 45 days to reduce the prison population by about 800 to 732, the maximum capacity for which the prison was built.

However, Leichty wants that number to be 593, or 80% capacity, due to sheriff’s obligations to segregate certain populations. Due to overcrowding, some blocks have three people in a two-person cell sleeping in a “boat” on the floor, creating unsanitary conditions. The person in the boat has to sleep near the cell’s toilet, which Leichty called “disgusting”.

The numbers have hovered around 800 since the advisory, but numbers are historically higher in the summer, Gladieux said. The jail count was 789 on Thursday with 286 felony-classified before trial, 182 probation violators and 128 felony-grade 6 convicts. Gladieux said last week that 15 federal inmates had been dispatched and 28 had been transported to the Indiana Department of Corrections.

Allen County Community Corrections Day Reporting Center (Photo by Jamie Duffy)

This advisory board meeting was the second of six scheduled for this year, held at the Community Corrections Information Center on Superior Street, where many offenders are required to report for urine tests and other immigration requirements. an alternative sentence. This alternative sentence prevents them from being locked up in the Allen County Jail or being sent to the Indiana Department of Corrections or IDOC for incarceration in a state prison.

According to IDOC statistics, Allen County sent more than 500 offenders to DOC last year, half of what Marion County sent, but that county is 2.5 times more populated. . Lake County sent 124 people to IDOC and has about 100,000 more people living in that county.

Davis said the residential services center, with a maximum accommodation of 230 people, currently has about 174 offenders, up from 183 reported in January. However, that’s because the programs are working and the offenders are being released, Davis said.

The Cook Road Residential Services Center in the county’s northwest opened in August 2020, as the Allen County Work Release Program under the Sheriff’s Department was closed after 77 applications were rejected by the courts.

Of those 174 offenders, 155 are employed and their average sentence length is 110 days, Davis reported. At the meeting attended by most of the Allen County judges, as well as representatives from the county probation, sheriff, public defender, district attorney, county commissioners, county council, aide to victims and chaplains in addition to Kim Churchward, executive director of the county’s community corrections program, numbers at the residential services center are being discussed with the budget.

Since August 2020, offenders have completed 11,436 hours of classroom instruction, a component of community corrections.

Community Corrections, a program fully funded by the state until 2020 when the county was asked to top up its budget, is designed to give offenders a second chance at reform through resolution courts of trouble and emptying the prison of many low-level offenders.

Chandra Reichert, chief financial officer of community corrections, said this year the department will ask the state for $5.414 million for 2023. In February, Allen County Auditor figures showed county funding for community corrections increased from $2 million in 2020 to $4.7 million. in 2021. This year, the county approved $5.247 million.

Of that $12.9 million in this year’s budget, the breakdown is $5.247 million from the county, $3.851 million from the Indiana Department of Corrections, and $3.4 million projected from the costs of use.

Latest figures from the Allen County Auditor show the county’s funding for community corrections has increased from $2 million in 2020 to $4.7 million in 2021. This year, the county approved $5.247 million in dollars.