KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WAWV/WTWO) – Commissioners, city officials, and designers gathered at the Knox County Justice Campus May 20th to break ground on a new $32 million jail project.

Indiana Architecture & Engineering Services ‘RAQW’ started this project with the Knox County Commissioners in 2019. RAQW’s architect Lara Dawson managed this project and said it started by a conducting a feasibility study and evaluation on the Knox County Community Corrections.

“We came up with a couple major additions for the jail expansion,” Dawson said.

Dawson said some of the additions include a new housing pod that will add an additional 104 beds, a new sally port, as well as a new intake and booking area.

“Our existing intake and booking will be turned into a new medical suite which will house isolation cells and padded cells,” Dawson said.

The project also consist of a new community corrections facility.

“It’s a stand alone facility that would be over 200 beds for community corrections on the opposite side of the site,” Dawson said.

Knox County Commissioner Trent Hinkle said the expansion of the jail has been a project he’s been apart since he was first elected in 2016.

“When I ran back in 2016, I spoke with one of the sheriff deputies and asked him major issues that would need to be addressed if I get elected,” Hinkle said. “The deputy told me that we would have to add onto the jail because of overcrowding.”

Hinkle said a jail tax was added to local residents dues a couple years ago to help fund the addition.

“It was a necessity that jail taxes were implemented and for that we thank the community,” Hinkle said.

Knox County Sheriff Doug Vantlin said jail overcrowding has become an increasing issue in recent years.

“There’s always been drugs issues but we’re seeing the sentences and the charges of people become longer,” Vantlin said.

Vantlin said the new expansion is much needed as the facility is over max capacity with 225 beds.

“We’re crowded right now and anytime you a lot of people pushed into one area you’re going to have problems,” Vantlin said. “The addition will relive a lot of stress that’s inside of the jail right now.”

The expansion is expected to be completed in December of 2023.