Vigo County could go back to the drawing board as officials debate a proposal to build a new jail.
The Vigo County Council is currently considering a $63 million proposal for the new facility, paid for by an increase to the local income tax. But after the initial vote on the jail was delayed and the council faced public backlash over the proposal, it’s unclear if the proposal will pass.
Instead, council members and county commissioners are now looking at funding a needs assessment study to research other potential solutions to the current facility’s overcrowding problem, as well as reassess the projected cost of the new jail.
The Citizens for Better Government and the Vigo County Taxpayers Association held yesterday’s meeting to inform the public on possible benefits from such a study.
Among these groups was Brian Bunnett, who is head of the Public Service department at Indiana State University.
“I don’t think it could just be an assessment of the jail,” Bunnett says, “it has to be [an assessment] of the entire criminal justice system.”
Members have been asking the council to do more research on the current judiciary system before approving the new jail proposal. The original proposal was drafted up by the same architecture firm contracted to build the jail, and those protesting the current plan are demanding more independent research.
Terre Haute resident Lisa Spence helped lead the group in their discussions.
“People are concerned that we don’t seem to have a council and commissioners that are working together,” Spence says. “They seem to be working at cross-purposes. The council has made a very reasonable request, and the commissioners seem to be doing their own thing without regard to that request.”
The Vigo County Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday, but the jail proposal is not on the agenda.