downtown Vigo jail

The current Vigo County Jail.

A reporting error by Vigo County on jail inmate counts led the ACLU of Indiana to pull its request for a status hearing slated for Wednesday in federal court in Terre Haute.

Last month, Kenneth J. Falk, attorney for the ACLU of Indiana, said an inmate count of 359 marked a "precipitous increase" in the county jail population and sought a hearing in the U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana.

"Apparently that was a mistake. The [county's] reporting was not accurate," Falk said Wednesday. 

In an Oct. 31 report filed with the federal court, Attorney David P. Friedrich in a break down of inmate numbers stated, "The jail's Sept. 30, 2019 inmate population was inaccurate. The population was reported as 359 inmates when the actual number incarcerated was 326. Vigo County had 33 inmates housed in other counties at the end of last month and were incorrectly included in the jail population."

"The jail had 289 inmates on Oct. 30, 2019," the report for the county stated. The county, on Oct. 31, had a total of 322 inmates when counting 33 inmates incarcerated in other Indiana jails, the report stated.

Falk said the 326 inmates housed in the county jail in September "is not great, but the precipitous increase was a result, I believe, of a reporting mistake, not the actual number of people in the jail."

"While we remain concerned – as everyone does with the fact that the jail is operating so far above if not the actual number of beds, then certainly the recommended number of people in the jail – we also recognize that at this point, there may not be much that can be done until the new jail is built," Falk said.

"The one concern we have is if the population continues to go up is to make sure that everyone in the [governmental] system is doing everything they can to keep the population down," Falk said. "I had asked to have the hearing to have that discussion, but I think that is premature now base on the new population that was reported."

Deal with Greene County

As a measure to deal with future jail overcrowding, the Vigo County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday approved an inter-local government agreement with Greene County to provide space for Vigo County inmates in the Greene County Jail. That agreement calls for a payment of $37.50 per day for each inmate to be held at the Green County Jail, plus Vigo County will be responsible for all medical costs associated with its county inmates.

Termination of that agreement requires a 30 day written notice preceding the intended termination date.

"If we keep getting crowded, this is another place we can take inmates," Vigo County Commissioner President Brad Anderson said of the inter-local agreement.

Falk said the ACLU of Indiana will continue to closely watch the jail population until a new jail is built.

"I want to encourage everyone associated with the criminal justice association to recognize that the next couple of years we are going to have to all work to keep the population down until the new facility is open," Falk said.

Jail timeline 

The county in its Oct. 31 status report submitted a time frame for the new jail to the court. The time frame is:

• Start of Construction 12/02/19

• Site Access and Erosion Control 12/02/19 to 1/02/20

• Site work & Underground Utilities 12/27/19 to 7/30/20

• Building Construction (Area C) 3/31/20 to 5/06/21

• Building Construction (Area A) 5/12/20 to 11/9/20

• Building Construction (Area B) 5/12/20 to 6/17/21

• Building Construction (Area E) 6/04/20 to 9/09/21

• Site Finishes & Punch List 3/10/21 to 9/9/21

• Final Cleaning & Training 10/21/22 to 12/2/21

• Complete Construction 12/02/21

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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