Consultants: Adding 750 Beds Keeps Jail Under Capacity Through 2040

May 14, 2019

The Vanderburgh County jail will need to more than double in size to keep up with the estimated rise in the number of inmates over the next 20 years. 

That figure comes from a presentation given to county officials Tuesday.

An additional 750 beds will keep the jail under maximum capacity until around 2040, according to an analysis by engineering firm American Structurepoint done with help from the sheriff’s office.

The jail's current capacity sits at 512, but on any given day, Vanderburgh County houses around 800 inmates in its own jail or in nearby county jails. Consultants say 20 percent of beds are supposed to remain empty to properly accomadate an influx of inmates. 

County officials were given similar numbers by a different firm last year. In a study published in April 2018, RQAW recommended expanding the jail by an additional 900 beds. 

Discussion stalled because of disagreements over what the county could afford.

County sheriff Dave Wedding wishes the jail were empty, but he says it needs to be expanded. "You have to look at the need, and then you find the funding because you need something," he says. "You find the funding because you absolutely have to have it. And I think that that’s what we’re going to have to look at."

No cost estimates were presented at Tuesday’s meeting. Consultants with American Structrurepoint said the firm needed to first work with the sheriff's office to create design plans, which will presented next month.

Financials will come after that.