Prison population to be capped, construction needed for Allen County Jail

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) – In the short term, the plan is to transfer or – if the situation becomes desperate – to try to release inmates from the Allen County jail to prevent it from overflowing.

In the long term, there must be new construction – either in addition to the current facility or completely new – and both of these options are being explored.

The tentative plan calls for a new or expanded facility by 2026.

That’s according to a new filing from Allen County Commissioners and the Allen County Sheriff in response to a U.S. District Court judge ordering them to come up with a plan to fix the “chronically and severely overcrowded jail.”

Judge Damon R. Leichty, ruling last March in a class action lawsuit involving prison inmates, found that conditions at the facility along Calhoun Street violated those inmates’ 8th and 14th Amendments prohibiting cruel punishment and unusual.

The conditions caused those inmates ‘irreparable harm’ and gave commissioners and the sheriff until Monday to come up with a plan.

Allen County Jail

In the short term, the sheriff and commissioners are trying to limit the prison population to 731 total inmates at any one time, according to their court records.

In recent months, the prison population has hovered around 800 inmates.

There is already an agreement with LaGrange County officials to house up to 50 inmates at the jail, the court filing said. The commissioners also reached out to Noble County officials to see if a similar deal could be reached with them as well.

They also recently rescinded a contract in which those charged with federal crimes were held in jail, according to the filing.

Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux will regularly report the prison population to officials in the 38th Judicial District — which oversees sentencing policies and practices in the region — as well as to commissioners.

When the population reaches 731, Gladieux will have 24 hours to email the 38th Judicial District Attorney as well as the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners and the Chairman of the Allen County Board.

“The sheriff or his delegate will also direct the judges to release a sufficient number of inmates to reduce the prison population to 731 or less, subject to attempted transfers to other facilities,” the sheriff and commissioner’s filing said. . “The parties understand that this decision to release any detainee is solely at the discretion of the judiciary.”

Space in the prison is also being cleared to provide more room for recreation, the filing said, with the expectation that each inmate will receive three hours of recreation outside of their cell block per week, the filing said.

The sheriff’s department is also pushing job fairs and other ways to hire workers at the jail, which has been difficult, according to the filing. There are currently 123 positions filled, which is sufficient, according to the filing, although there is room for 21 additional employees.

In the long term, the solutions could become trickier.

The construction is necessary to address “constitutional deficiencies,” the filing says. The scope of this construction has not yet been determined.

Data and projections reviewed by the sheriff and commissioners suggest that as many as 1,500 beds could be needed depending on population growth in the county, according to the filing.

“However, county trends and community concerns reveal the need to address mental health and addictions/substance abuse issues faced by the community and those incarcerated, which can alter both the number of prison beds needed and the scope of any new construction,” the filing said. .

“As a result, a potentially more realistic number of prison beds may be between 1,100 and 1,200 beds, while the total number of beds available for housing remains at 1,500 beds,” the filing continues.

The procedures for financing and designing new equipment and the simultaneous study of a complement to the current one have already begun. Possible plans for both options and their cost have been discussed and schematics have been released previously.

If a new facility were actually built, approximately 60 to 70 acres would be required to accommodate further expansion.

“Commissioners have investigated and continue to investigate the adequacy of property currently held by commissioners, the purchase of property owned by other political subdivisions, and property currently owned by non-public entities,” the filing said.

Part of Judge Leichty’s order involved the commissioners and the sheriff setting deadlines for long-term solutions. In response to this, the plan is to meet the following timelines for a new facility or expansion of the current one on the following dates:

  • Schematic design: until September 2022
  • Design development: until June 2023
  • Construction documents: until August 2023
  • Tender and construction financing: until December 2023
  • Construction: until June 2026

A redesigned or new prison would not house any inmates until approved by the Indiana state prison inspector, according to the filing.