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Bailing Out of Trouble: Part 1

Staying safe in jail may not be a top concern for you, but if you pay taxes, some of your money is supposed to make sure inmates are safe.

Posted: Feb 1, 2018 6:34 PM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Staying safe in jail may not be a top concern for you, but if you pay taxes, some of your money is supposed to make sure inmates are safe.


It's the law.

There's a lawsuit in Vigo County saying the leaders are breaking the law.

You've heard the fallout, but you haven't heard from the inmate behind it all.

That is...until now.

It's all about the numbers and those numbers are too high for the Vigo County Jail.

The jail is supposed to have 268 inmates, at the most.

In late January, we checked, and they had 245.

They were only under the limit because they shipped 30 inmates to other county jails, costing you money...every day.

"It ought to really make people sick to their stomachs. That is money that we will never get back," Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing told us.

That overcrowding has led to a lawsuit.

Jauston Huerta is behind it.

He served time in the Vigo County Jail for 20 months.

We wanted to hear directly from him what happened...but that wasn’t easy, because Huerta is in prison now.

He is serving time in the Putnamville Correctional Facility. He originally denied our request to talk.

After speaking with his attorney, he agreed to sit down with us, one on one and share his story from behind prison walls.

He agreed to the interview with the stipulation that we only talk about what happened in the Vigo County Jail.

"It's just a very old structure, and it's in very poor condition," Huerta said.

He says the building had several issues, but the overcrowding is what pushed him to sue.

"I was the fifth man in a cell designed for four people, so I had no choice but to sleep on the floor," Huerta said. 

Carl Scherb Jr. was another Vigo County inmate.

He shared that crowded cell with Huerta. He told us, one night he went to get out of his bed and fell on Huerta, which caused both to be injured.

"Next thing I know, I was out, and I woke up in a wheelchair, surrounded by officers, and I had blood all over me,” Huerta said.

He says officers rushed him to the ER, where he received treatment.

That is when he decided to do something, by reaching out to Michael Sutherlin, an attorney with a history of going after jails and government agencies.

"What I don't want is another person to wake up covered in their own blood, having to be rushed to the hospital, and feeling like your heads been split in half," Sutherlin said.

Scherb Jr. and a few other inmates have also joined.

If they win, a judge may take your tax money to pay them.

But Huerta says there's another reason to care.

"It could very well be you, sitting there and waiting for things to be sorted out, and I'm sure that you or some person in your family would want to be guaranteed safety," Huerta told us.

You're locked into this jail decision, no matter how it falls.

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