‘When you’re that many short, bad things could happen’: Vigo County Jail is understaffed by over two dozen employees

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – A federal judge in the lawsuit against the Vigo County Jail informed county leaders last month that she’s reviewing the county’s ability to hire more jail staff.

According to Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse, the county jail is short of 27 employees.

The Sheriff’s Office requested that the Vigo County Council raise jail staff pay to $22 per hour to help retain and attract employees to help alleviate some of the issues. This would be on top of the 5% county employee pay increase that the council approved earlier this month.

Plasse cited that an understaffed jail could possibly lead to security issues.

“Bad things could happen when you’re not covering all the things that you should cover,” Plasse said. “We have to pull people from other spots because we don’t have adequate staffing so it’s just not a good situation to be in.”

The Vigo County Council did not act on the request that the Sheriff’s Office made in October. However, Vigo County Councilman Todd Thacker said the council could potentially schedule a special meeting next month to avoid issues with federal lawsuit against the jail.

“If we were to get something from the judge, I think the President of the council could call a special meeting in December if needed,” Thacker said.

The new Vigo County Jail is expected to be up and running next summer. Plasse said it’s essential to not let these staffing issues carry over to the new jail.

“We may be limited at what we can have housed in that new jail even though the capacity is going to be 495,” Plasse said. “It’s really imperative that we get staffing levels where they need to be so we can house people that need to be housed.”

Thacker explained that if a special meeting isn’t called this year, the earliest the council could address jail staff pay would be in January.

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