Vermillion County officials meet to discuss funding for jail add-on

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VERMILLION COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Tuesday, Vermillion County officials met to discuss funding for an addition to their jail.

The Vermillion County Jail was originally designed for 34 inmates when it opened in 1993, now the jail has 71 inmates.

According to Vermillion County Sheriff Mike Phelps, a law that went into effect in 2014 has caused overcrowding to continue.

“When the law’s changed in 2014 that kept some of the level six offenders, which you would call back in the old days ‘the D felons’, that kept a lot of those in county jails,” Phelps said.

To help fix this problem with overcrowding, a POD-style addition to the current jail which would have an estimated 100 to 130 beds was proposed.

“It does get scary when you only have so many beds and the issue like we’ve got going on tonight, you can’t separate them anymore than we’ve already done,” Phelps said.

Tuesday, county commissioners and county council met to discuss financial options to add-on to the current facility.

One estimate is expected to cost just under $19 million dollars, with the other option costing over $22 million.

The president of the Vermillion County commissioners says following Tuesday’s meeting officials will work on a feasibility study before making a decision on how to finance the jail.

“I don’t want to break the law and the commissioners don’t want to break the law, so we’re going to update what we have to update and go from there,” said Tim Wilson, president of Vermillion County commissioners.

On January 1st of 2020, an amended law will go into effect that will implement pre-trial release programs in all Indiana counties.

Sheriff Phelps says at this time it is unknown if this law will help decrease his jail’s population.

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