VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - We are learning the next steps in the Vigo County Jail situation.
In part one of our special report, we told you about the lawsuit that started it all.
Now, time is ticking, and one attorney doesn't plan on stopping until the county fixes the problem.
Michael Sutherlin is an attorney on a mission.
"Years ago, I had a jail in Vermillion County, and under a different statute," Sutherlin said.
He told us about one of the things he says he's done in the past.
"I persuaded a circuit court judge that the jail was unconstitutional...and after a week, he closed the thing."
He's gotten similar results in other counties.
Now, he admits Vigo County probably won't see the same thing; however, he says there's a big problem, and something's got to give.
"You see that many people crowded in one place, with nothing to do, but look at a television...it's not very healthy," Sutherlin told us.
It started when Jauston Huerta filed a lawsuit against Vigo County leaders.
He said an inmate fell on him because the jail was too crowded.
"Under the constitution, we have a right to expect protection, we have a right to expect safe conditions," Huerta told us.
County leaders acknowledge the problem, but Sutherlin says things are going too slowly.
Just weeks ago, he asked for a three-judge panel.
Those three judges have the ability to impose fines and release inmates if they feel it's necessary.
Is it likely? Nothing is for sure, but Sutherlin says he is pushing.
"Then we have a hearing, and it's up to me to put on the evidence to show that there's been no adequate response by the council," Sutherlin said.
Here's what county leaders have tried.
They looked into building a $65 million new jail at the site of the former International Paper Mill back in February of 2017. That didn't happen.
Then, the Vigo County Council had a vote on a tax that would fund the jail in November of 2017. However, they voted to delay that...indefinitely.
So, essentially, nothing has changed.
Sutherlin says, the lawsuit goes into a hearing in October of this year.
"They haven't done anything! So the council is holding everything up by not approving that funding," Sutherlin said.
News 10 asked the council to respond.
Council member Brendan Kearns had strong words of his own.
"Here's what happened. I listened to the taxpayers. I listened to the people that supported me. I listened to the people that didn't support me. They don't want this," Kearns told us.
He says he doesn't think a new jail, in a hurry is the answer.
It's a reason Kearns says the council hasn't approved funding.
Kearns says he's not budging until they've done research. That's even after hearing Sutherlin's plans.
We asked Kearns if he is worried about this lawsuit.
"No, I mean, I don't worry about these kinds of things. What I'm worried about is our county," Kearns responded.
Vigo County Commissioners have chosen a group to assess a new jail.
It could take months to complete.
It's time Kearns says is necessary. Meanwhile, Sutherlin says he’ll keep working until something is done.
County commissioners told us they understand the position of Michael Sutherlin.
They say progress has slowed on the jail issue, because they say they’ve had to " backtrack many times, due to people's opinions."
We also reached out to Vigo County Council President Aaron Loudermilk. He didn't respond.