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Vigo County Jail Seeks Long-Term Solutions For Overcrowding

The Vigo County sheriff has formed a study committee to brainstorm ways to reduce overcrowding at the county jail.

vigo county jail

Photo: WTIU News File

The Vigo County jail has enough beds for 268 people, but Sheriff Greg Ewing says on weekends where his department must check in 20 to 30 people, the jail can easily become overcrowded.

The Vigo County Sheriff has formed a study committee aimed at finding a long-term fix for the frequent overcrowding at the Vigo County jail.

The jail has enough beds for 268 inmates, but it often exceeds that.

Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a legal action against the sheriff and the county, saying the jail was not complying with a 2002 agreement to keep the inmate population at or below 268.

Since then, Sheriff Greg Ewing has sought several alternatives.

Inmates have been sent to nearby county jails, but Ewing says that is costing the county tens of thousands of dollars each month.

Just this week, the county announced it was implementing a new in-home detention program using cellular systems that will monitor inmates whereabouts.

The county previously used monitoring devices that connected to landline telephones, but a decreasing number of inmates have landline service in their homes so officials hope the new devices will allow more inmates to be eligible for in-home detention

Ewing says these measures are only temporary fixes because the jail has never been big enough to house all the county’s inmates.

“When you build a facility that is too small to begin with, you’re only putting Band-Aids on the problem,” he says. “We’ve run out of Band-Aids here.”

The committee, which is made up of county commissioners, county council members, judges and several others, will look at more permanent solutions, including building a bigger jail.

Network Indiana content is included in this report.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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