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Vigo Co. Council Approves Additional Funding For Corrections Program

Vigo Co Jail

County officials are searching for ways to combat overcrowding at the current jail. (WFIU/WTIU News)

Vigo County is granting $75,000 to a local corrections program. Officials say that money could help eliminate some overcrowding at the county jail.

Judges from Vigo County’s Superior Court submitted the request. The money will help provide assistance to those who can’t afford to participate in Community Corrections. The program enrolls participants in work release or electronic monitoring programs, but those options require participants to pay for supplies like food or the ankle bracelets used to monitor them.

Community Corrections Executive Director Bill Watson says the money would cover those fees.

“This would assist those people who do not have that money initially,” Watson says. “It would let them get over here, find a way for them to get started and then seek employment, and eventually be able to pay their own way.”

The council approved the proposal this week, and Watson says he estimates the funding could come through within the next sixty days.

The Vigo County Jail is facing multiple lawsuits for alleged overcrowding. Officials thought they’d found a solution when the county commissioners signed a contract for the construction of a new jail last year, but the project was put on hold after residents raised concerns about the $62 million price tag.

The county then agreed to an independent assessment of its judicial system, which would look for other potential solutions to overcrowding.

The study is still ongoing, but Watson says getting more inmates into the corrections program could be part of the solution.

“We know there’s people in the jail that qualify. The exact number, we’re not sure,” Watson says. “And that number goes up and down based on the offenses and the types of crimes the courts are dealing with on the individual.”

Watson says that county officials are supportive of the program.

“I think it shows a collaborative effort system wide of all of our criminal justice partners, as well as the county fiscal body, that believe this is something that can have an impact and help people,” Watson says.

The results of the jail assessment study are expected this summer.

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