FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The next federal status hearing for the Allen County Jail has been postponed.

The hearing was to take place at the federal courthouse in Fort Wayne on Sept. 29.

However, due to reasons unknown it has been postponed, but not rescheduled, according to the office of Judge Damon R. Leichty, the federal judge who has been overseeing the case since it was filed in January 2020. Leichty is based in South Bend.

  • The existing Allen County Jail downtown could be taken over by a federal master if numbers don't go down.

The Indiana ACLU on behalf of Vincent Morris and other inmates at the Allen County Jail sued the Allen County Sheriff and Allen County Commissioners because of inhumane conditions due to understaffing and overcrowding. Leichty agreed in a March 31, 2022 opinion, which set the sheriff and commissioners attempting to reverse those conditions.

The commissioners, who are charged with maintaining the jail, have hired an architect, purchased land at 2911 Meyer Road and hired a construction manager, but have not secured financing to build the jail estimated to cost anywhere from $250 to $350 million.

Financing is up to the Allen County Council. The commissioners asked for a separate .02% local income tax allowed under state law, but the council turned them down in a 4-2 vote in July. One councilman, Paul Lagemann was absent.

The council is now holding a public hearing on the matter on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m., the day before the Sept. 21 monthly meeting at 8:30 a.m.

In the meantime, council attorney Mitch Harper reported that Ken Falk of the Indiana ACLU deposed Council President Tom Harris on the jail Tuesday.

Harris will likely speak in front of Leichty at the next status hearing, and there could be others, Harper said.

“It depends on what happens at the County Council meeting,” Harper said. “Because in his notice of deposition, he (Falk) says preparatory to perhaps informing the court, they should be able to quote one or more county council members at the hearing.”