Vanderburgh Co. Jail consultant recommends 750-bed expansion

Updated: May. 14, 2019 at 9:39 PM CDT
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VANDERBURGH CO., Ind. (WFIE) - Vanderburgh County commissioners and some council members discussed the jail’s overcrowding issue for several hours Tuesday.

The county is spending $500,000 for a consulting company to study incarceration trends and to draft potential designs of an expansion.

County leaders are asking the jail’s consulting company, Rosser International, to come up with cost estimates this summer in addition to design plans expected to be reviewed in mid-June.

Vanderburgh County jail has around 500 beds, but Sheriff Dave Wedding says it often houses over 800 inmates.

Mark Van Allen, Vice President and Director of Justice Architecture for Rosser International, said it would take a 750-bed expansion to meet the estimated incarceration growth in the next two decades. Van Allen explained the need to prepare for inmate classifications, meaning housing them according to gender and mental health assessments.

Sheriff Dave Wedding also added the need to expand for a growing number of under-aged inmates.

“We have an alarming rising population of juvenile offenders," Sheriff Wedding said. "They’re being waived to adult court...we’re supposed to keep them separated from adult offenders. That is impossible at this jail as it exists today.”

In the next 20-years, the county will have to spend $73 million to house inmates at other facilities if an expansion doesn’t happen, according to the sheriff. We also learned nearly 11,000 people will be arrested this year if the rates continue.

County leaders announced they’ll meet with the consultants again on June 11 to discuss design plans.

A county council meeting featuring the jail expansion cost estimates has yet to be determined.

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