County commissioners present options to expand, relocate jail

First public meeting to discuss possible new jail
First public meeting to discuss possible new jail(wpta)
Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 3:12 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Allen County commissioners held a public hearing Friday to get feedback on a feasibility study on the future of the Allen County Jail that they say is aging and overcrowded.

Commissioners say the study details a projection of the county’s future jail needs, various alternatives to construction, reconstruction, and expansion of the jail with an estimated cost for each alternative.

The study presented four potential options for the jail. The first is a joint regional jail that Allen County shares with a neighboring county. However, architects tell us no neighboring county was interested, so it is no longer a viable solution. The second option is sending inmates to existing jails in other counties. Commissioners say it would be a temporary solution as nearby jails are dealing with their own capacity issues.

The third option includes expanding the current jail, adding a few hundred beds to the south tower, which would cost about $30 million dollars. Architects argue that by the time that’s built, the jail will have grown to a point where even more beds would be needed.

The fourth option is to build an entirely new jail--outside of downtown. The issue with that option is the price--the study shows the construction of a new jail would cost the City $300 million, meeting with mixed reaction at today’s hearing.

Officials note that the most expensive option would require a bump in local taxes, but would provide 1,500 inmate beds with room to add more.

This was just the first meeting of many, and discussions about location have not yet begun. You can view the full feasibility study here.

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