Johnson County officials on the clock to address jail overcrowding

FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Corrections have given Johnson County officials a notice that they must submit a plan to address overcrowding at the jail by November.

The jail has been overcrowded and over capacity for quite some time, according to Sheriff Doug Cox, but Friday it set a new record of 446 inmates.

The capacity is set at 322 inmates.

The recent spike in inmates can be partially attributed to a drug investigation this week where county officials issued arrest warrants for 63 suspected drug dealers.

“The prosecutor and the sheriff and the judicial system also did a very, very good job cleaning up the county so anytime you do that, you’re going to increase the numbers in the jail,” County Commissioner Kevin Walls said.

Walls is part of a group stakeholders working to come up with a solution to the problems at the jail.

“We’re working on it,” Walls said. “We have a panel of stakeholders put together and we’re looking at it and we’re doing lot of investigations and we want to get the proper data to make the right decision for all the tax payers here in the county.”

Walls said he’s working toward a plan that could service the county for the next 20 years, but with all the different players involved, it’s not easy.

“You got community corrections involved, you have a juvenile facility here that is involved and all that takes money to fix,” he said.

Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said he hopes this problem is solved sooner rather than later. He explained more inmates at the jail means more problems for staff and the jail population.

“Please don’t form that attitude of just, ‘throw them in there and let it be. We don’t care what happens to them,’ because us sheriffs do care what happens to the inmates and to our employees when the jail is crowded," Sheriff Cox said.

If county leaders don't come up with plan to address the overcrowding by November, a federal judge could force residents in Johnson County to pay for a new facility, Walls said.

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