FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Allen County authorities are working to reduce the population of the Allen County jail after a federal judge last week sided with inmates in a class action lawsuit that claimed the facility was severely overcrowded.

The Allen County commissioners on Tuesday released a statement after they “we had the opportunity to review and digest last week’s ruling” on conditions at the Allen County Jail. That ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Damon R. Leichty demanded immediate changes at the jail due to the “irreparable harm” done to inmates.

The changes have already begun, the commissioners said Tuesday. They include:

  • Creation of a Community Corrections Residential Services program that has relieved the jail of between 100 and 150 inmates
  • Sought out other counties which have agreed to take approximately 50 Allen County inmates
  • Reduction of the number of federal prisoners housed in the Allen County Jail by around 30% and suspending the federal holds contract
  • Successfully lobbied the Indiana General Assembly to pass legislation allowing judges to resume sentencing people convicted of low-level felonies into state prisons instead of county jails
  • Commissioned Elevatus Architecture to conduct a space study on Allen County’s entire criminal justice system, including the jail
  • Conducted a public hearing as a prerequisite to any consideration of constructing a new jail

The commissioners said they would “continue a collaborative approach with other key criminal justice stakeholders as we work toward filing a plan with Judge Leichty that addresses the jail’s deficiencies,” the statement read.

This week, WANE 15 learned the county had hired a construction management firm to create a master plan to build a new jail. Construction could take up to three years and cost between $200 million and $230 million, according to an agreement.