Allen County judges, commissioners council and the sheriff have about two weeks until a federal judge’s deadline to reduce the number of inmates at the Allen County Jail, deemed overcrowded and inhumane.
That deadline will be met, Allen Circuit Judge Wendy Davis said Thursday just after the Allen County Community Corrections Advisory Board meeting where she presided as vice chair in place of the board’s chair, Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull.
“Absolutely, I do,” Davis said about meeting the deadline. “I think that with our collaboration in Allen County, like I said, Judge Gull and myself are at every meeting with the commissioners, with county council, the sheriff, with probation, community corrections. We are all talking about it together to come up with solutions pursuant to the judge’s orders.”
When Federal Judge Damon R. Leichty issued his opinion March 31, he gave Sheriff David Gladieux, the Allen County Commissioners and Allen County Council 45 days to reduce the jail population from around 800 to 732, the maximum capacity the jail was built for.
However, Leichty wants that number to be 593, or 80% capacity, because of the sheriff’s obligations to segregate certain populations. As a result of the overcrowding, some blocks have three people in a two-person cell sleeping in a “boat” on the floor, creating unsanitary conditions. The person in the boat must sleep close to the cell’s toilet, which Leichty described as “disgusting.”
Numbers have hovered around 800 since the opinion, but the numbers historically are higher in the summer, Gladieux has said. Thursday, jail numbers were at 789 with 286 offenders classified as pre-trial felony, 182 probation violators and 128 sentenced Level 6 felony. Gladieux said last week 15 federal inmates were shipped off and 28 were transported to the Indiana Department of Corrections.
This advisory board meeting was the second of six scheduled this year, held at the Community Corrections Day Reporting Center on Superior Street, where many offenders must report for urine tests and other requirements of an alternative sentence. That alternative sentence keeps them from being locked up at the Allen County Jail or getting sent to the Indiana Department of Corrections or IDOC for incarceration in state prison.
According to statistics from IDOC, last year Allen County sent more than 500 offenders to the DOC, half what Marion County sent, but that county is 2.5 times more populated. Lake County sent 124 to IDOC and has about 100,000 more people living in that county.
Davis reported that the Residential Services Center, with a maximum accommodation of 230, has about 174 offenders currently, down from the 183 reported in January. However, that is due to the programs working and offenders being released, Davis said.
The Residential Services Center off Cook Road in the county’s northwest opened in August 2020, just as the Allen County Work Release Program under the sheriff’s department was shut down after 77 applications were denied by the courts.
Of those 174 offenders, 155 are employed and average time served is 110 days, Davis reported. At the meeting where most of Allen County judges attend along with representatives from the county Probation, Sheriff, Public Defender, prosecutor, county commissioners, county council , victim assistance and chaplains besides Kim Churchward, executive director of the county’s community corrections program, numbers at the residential services center are discussed along with the budget.
Since August 2020, offenders have participated in 11,436 hours of classroom instruction, a component of community corrections.
Community Corrections, an entirely state funded program until 2020 when the county was asked to supplement its budget, is designed to give offenders a second chance to reform themselves through problem solving courts and to drain the jail of many low level offenders.
Chandra Reichert, chief financial officer of Community Corrections, said this year the department will be asking the state for $5.414 million for 2023. In February, figures from the Allen County Auditor showed county funding for Community Corrections went from $2 million in 2020 to $4.7 million in 2021. This year, the county approved $5.247 million.
Of that $12.9 million in this year’s budget, the break down is $5.247 million from the county, $3.851 million from the Indiana Department of Correction and a projected $3.4 million from user fees.
The latest figures from the Allen County Auditor show county funding for Community Corrections went from $2 million in 2020 to $4.7 million in 2021. This year, the county approved $5.247 million.