FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A number of Fort Wayne officials, leaders and citizens have made a pledge to oppose the new jail proposed on the city’s southeast side, according to the Help Not Handcuffs Coalition.

The “No new jail southeast, and no new jail period” pledge was announced at Citizen’s Square on Wednesday at noon. Organizers said the goal is to “urge the Allen County commissioners to halt their aggressive timeline toward building a new jail.”

Over 400 community members, dozens of black business owners, and neighborhood representatives signed the pledge. Several non-profit leaders and elected leaders announced their support for the pledge.

Pledge organizers pointed out that, when a federal judge ordered the county to improve jail conditions and lower the inmate population, the construction of a new jail was not mandated.

Organizers say they want an independent agency to examine the county’s criminal justice system.

Supporters of the pledge also want to hire an independent assessment agency and form an “Alternatives to Incarceration” Working Group to examine the county’s criminal justice system in relationship to over-incarceration.

“The Allen County Commissioners’ proposal to place a new jail near existing schools on the southeast side demonstrates an oblivious attitude to both educational and criminal justice needs,” said Pastor Karen Staton of Destiny Life Center. “It is our hope that they will turn from this haphazard and fiscally irresponsible course of action.”

Organizers noted there is also a community canvassing event Friday.